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Compulsory re-testing for drivers over the age of 70?

Posted on 20th November 2015

Are drivers of 70 years and over, safer drivers than those under the age of 20? Data indicates that drivers under the age of 20 are involved in more fatal accidents than drivers over the age of 75. So is there any basis for the over 70s to be retested?

The Law

As the law currently stands, drivers over the age of 70 must simply fill in a self-assessment form every 3 years in order to renew their license. This does not include having to undergo a medical assessment or a driving test. But should it?

Recent Case

In November 2012 an 85 year old driver’s car mounted the pavement and careered into a family, closely missing a two year old but tragically killing his mother. The dad and husband, has recently started a petition calling for over-70 year olds to be retested every three years. The petition which was only started last week on Change.org gathered more than 140,000 votes in just a couple of days.

This a heart wrenching case. A man has been left without his wife and a little boy without his mother. The family of the driver (who was sentenced to 18 months in jail for causing death by dangerous driving – later reduced to 12 months on appeal) are also suffering. If this driver had been forced to retake his test, perhaps this fatality would have been avoided.

Ongoing debate

Elderly drivers may have slower reaction times, weaker muscles and reduced flexibility than their younger counterparts but many argue than age alone is not a reason to systematically force all drivers over the age of 70 to retake their test and pass a medical assessment.

What of the reckless younger drivers we hear so much about who cause fatalities? Perhaps one way to reduce the number of accidents and deaths on the road is by increasing the age which drivers must pass their test from 16 to 18 or even 21.

In 2013 the Department of Transport said there was no evidence that older drivers are more likely to cause accidents and at the time there were no plans to change the law. That said, petitions that reach 100,000 signatories are considered for a debate in Parliament. With this particular petition growing fast, will Parliament be forced to reconsider the law?

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