Research & reports

Title: Maintaining Safe Mobility for the Ageing Population

Organisation: Road Safety Foundation
Date uploaded: 21st July 2010
Date published/launched: April 2010

The 3.7m drivers born before the Second World War are among the safest people on our roads, and the RAC Foundation believes forcing them to take compulsory retests will limit their mobility, be hard to police and do little to reduce accidents.

This report from the RAC Foundation addresses the safety of older drivers and the role of licensing in both the UK context and abroad, how infrastructure can be developed to meet older people’s needs and the consequences of reducing mobility in older age. The report contains three papers authored by Elizabeth Box, Dr Kit Mitchell and Dr Julie Gandolfi.

Ageing drivers do not have more accidents than the rest of the driving population - in fact their safety record is better than that of many young drivers - though their frailty means that when they are involved in collisions they are more likely to be killed or seriously injured. Only when they reach 80, and/or do very limited mileage, does the ageing process and reduced driving increase their risk.

These are the key findings in the RAC Foundation report 'Maintaining Safe Mobility for the Ageing Population'. The report recognises that:
• 63% of all trips made by the over 70s are by car either as a driver or passenger
• 53% of the over 70s hold a driving licence
• 16% of the UK population is currently over the age of 65
• By 2023 it is predicted almost a quarter of the population will be over 65

Most senior car owners self-regulate their driving behaviour and will not take to the roads in circumstances that make them feel uncomfortable. Identifying the few who do not limit their actions must be achieved without penalising the responsible majority which is why the RAC Foundation would like to see:

• Health professionals receiving more training about their responsibilities in relation to advising on fitness to drive and the legal implications of their actions;

• More research carried out to see whether capability based assessments - reaction time tests, vision tests - could add to existing medical condition assessments (this would have implications for the whole of the driving population, not just older people);

• Car insurance for the senior age group which prices cover at varying levels depending on the risk associated with factors like the time of day older people drive and the type of roads and traffic conditions they expose themselves to;

• An extension to all age groups of the fitness-to-drive declaration currently made when licences are renewed at 70 through the 10-yearly photo card renewal process;

• When renewal forms are sent out at age 70 they should be accompanied by details of voluntary refresher driving courses already being run by local authorities and others;

• Changes to the road infrastructure - such as simplified signage with a larger type-face, and larger-lens traffic lights - which recognise that older drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents at junctions and at low speeds.

For more information contact:
Elizabeth Box
T: 020 7747 3448

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