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to think that those over 70 should be subject to some kind of test when they renew their driving licence?

(86 Posts)
MrsSchadenfreude Thu 09-May-13 22:21:24

Even if it's just an eyesight test? I have spent the past week in the company of my mother and one of her friends, both 80, and both absolutely atrocious drivers. My mother has a cataract in one eye and cannot see properly. Despite this, she drives everywhere too fast, in the wrong gear, goes through red lights, forgets she is in reverse and shoots backwards into bollards and other people's cars, and stalls the car all the time when she stops and starts again. She drives too close to the side of the road and keeps clipping the kerb or mounting it. The 30 mile an hour speed limit through the village does not apply to her, it is "silly" to have to drive so slowly. I have told her that she should not be driving until she has her cataract fixed, and is probably not insured to drive until it is done. Her response was "Oh I never drive very far."

Her friend is the opposite - very nervous and very slow. She drove me to the station (about 2 miles), and we didn't get out of second gear or above 20 mph all the way there. She stops at traffic lights when they are green "because they might change suddenly".

I spoke to my Mum's doctor informally a couple of years ago about my concerns, but she was more concerned with my mother keeping her independence than her danger to other road users, and just said "oh she shouldn't really be driving while she's waiting to get her cataracts done", but didn't come right out and tell my mother not to drive until after the operation.

AIBU to think that they are an accident waiting to happen? (And don't get me started on her friends' attitude to drinking and driving - "Oh it's only white wine, and I haven't got far to go." Yes, it is white wine, and you are on your second bottle...)

i think every one should be tested regularly. anyone can be an awful driver whatever their age. there are some shocking younger ones about.

maybe every 2-5 years depending on tickets/speeding/points etc etc

Lovecat Thu 09-May-13 23:54:20

YANBU - my Dad's driving deteriorated horribly in his late 60's/mid 70's (he had his licence revoked when he was 77 due to alzheimers).

He had been a very good, if impatient driver before then and part of the trouble was that my parents downsized their car when he retired - the little car they got had none of the poke of his previous cars, but he still drove like it did and thought his reactions were as sharp. I still have nightmares about sitting in the passenger seat with him pulling out in front of people far too slowly and far too late because he just couldn't judge it properly anymore. It was a blessed relief when he lost his licence, tbh.

ElectricSheep Fri 10-May-13 00:00:05

Yeah, and how much would regular retests/eye tests etc cost?

Just another barrier to those who are financially suffering to taking a full part in society, not to mention their ability to get work for some.

Bad idea imho.

Viviennemary Fri 10-May-13 00:02:24

I think a lot of people on the roads should be subjected to some kind of test. Some of them are totally dangerous. Not just the over 70's.

Bozzle Fri 10-May-13 00:11:46

My grandfather is 93, he has only just stopped driving. That was only because a few minths go he ,while coming back from lunch, turned right across a lane and didn't see the cyclist. He hit the side door. Cyclist was very badly injured and was airlifted to hospital. Even after this my grandfather can't see the problem - blamed everyone but himself. He has mild Parkinson's and can hardly write his name and yet the consultant signed him off as ok to drive!! He was always hitting wing mirrors. I find it unbelievable that no tests are done again after passing your driving test. Driving is a privilege not a right.

olgaga Fri 10-May-13 00:13:35

Yes, it's a worry. But I think if you brought in regular re-testing you'd just end up with a lot more unlicensed drivers.

If anyone should have regular re-testing, it should be younger men, who are responsible for far more traffic accidents per mile driven than any other age group.

Soon we'll all have to work until we're at least 70, so look out for all those elderly white van men!

ComposHat Fri 10-May-13 00:22:56

YANBU . I was recently hit by a bewildered pensioner who claimed that she's run into me as the lights had changed (there were no traffic lights, she'd just pulled out of a T-junction without looking) and couldn't remember her own postcode, telephone number or who she was insured with. There was no way she should have been out without a carer, let alone left in control of a deadly weapon.

It was unharmed, but if there had been someone in the back, I dread to think what state they would have been in.

It tells its own tale that insurance premiums start to rise after a certain age. There is an irreversible decline in both mental and physical capacity in most people (I know your brain starts to die at 20 or so, but there needs to be a cut off point somewhere)

I also know that there is a bigger problem with young drivers (who often cause catastrophic accidents) but they can be tackled by education (training/experience) or by punishment (fines/points/bans) but you can't with older people whose dangerous driving is down to physical or mental decline, so they need to be tackled differently.

I'd propose that after 70, whereas at the moment you just write off for a new licence, you should be required to go to your doctor and get a certificate showing that you are still physically and mentally able to drive a car. This should be followed by a short driving session in the company of an instructor/examiner (far less rigorous than a normal driving test, but just to see that you can still control the car safely in traffic.

Hopefully that would strike a balance between letting people who were able to keep driving and keeping everyone else safe from those who are unfit to drive.

sashh Fri 10-May-13 01:07:31

Yeah, and how much would regular retests/eye tests etc cost?

Well they are free for the over 65 (maybe 60) and you should be having an annual test by then anyway

exexpat Fri 10-May-13 01:25:59

Drivers over 70 are more likely to have accidents, and more likely to die in them, according to lots of research, eg this report.

I think mandatory testing of eyesight and some basic driving safety things like reaction times and ability to judge speed/distance would be a very good idea. And I say that as someone with parents in their mid-70s living somewhere where they are totally car dependent (no public transport, no local shops etc). My father has not been able to drive for a decade since he was seriously ill (now a wheelchair user).

My mother went back to driving after a minor stroke a few years ago, but is currently unable to drive after another stroke and a recent cataract operation. She really, really wants to go back to driving, because at the moment they depend on me/friends/taxis to go everywhere, but I really, really don't think she should. It all depends on her next eye test, but what that doesn't measure is her much slower reactions these days, her weaker legs (arthritis) meaning emergency braking would be slower, and more generally the fact that she is increasingly nervous, hesitant at roundabouts, less observant of what is going on around her and so on. Last time I was in the car when she drove, about six months ago, I really didn't feel very safe in the car.

I don't want her to lose her independence, but I also don't want her to kill herself or anyone else.

Highlander Fri 10-May-13 07:49:38

scaevola, elderly people are less likely to make an insurance claim. They tend to hav the means to pay for their own car repairs. Their crashes also tend to happen at lower speeds, resulting in less catastrophic car damage. The lower speeds mean that they are more likely to be in urban areas, with more pedestrian involvement.

Young (<25 yrs) tend to have high speed impacts.

Dahlen Fri 10-May-13 07:57:18

I think it would be patronising to make people sit their driving tests again related solely to age, but I would like to see 5-yearly tests for drivers that include testing eyesight, hazard perception and reaction times.

Tanith Fri 10-May-13 08:05:45

We've had this with my SFIL. Cataracts, Alzheimer's and delayed reaction times, yet arrogantly

cory Fri 10-May-13 08:07:19

ElectricSheep Fri 10-May-13 00:00:05
"Yeah, and how much would regular retests/eye tests etc cost?

Just another barrier to those who are financially suffering to taking a full part in society, not to mention their ability to get work for some."

That's evidently how my FIL's doctor felt when he took FIL's word for it that he was fine to drive though he must have known that he was almost blind.

What didn't occur to either of them was that if FIL went into another car one day instead of a field (which he mistook for his turning), then that might be somebody else who would never take any kind of part in society- because they would be dead.

In the end, MIL put her foot down. By that time, FIL was so visually impaired as to be a danger in his own kitchen, let alone on the road.

Dh's elderly friend went on driving despite nearly causing several serious accidents. Again, everybody who knew her knew she was visually impaired, but all the GP asked was "are you fit to drive?", to which she blithely answered yes. She never realised quite how dangerous she was, because she couldn't see the near accidents she caused.

olgaga Fri 10-May-13 08:53:53

A report by the Institute of Advanced Motorists found that while some drivers experience a decrease in cognitive skills over 70, it also found:

The youngest and most inexperienced drivers are involved in the highest number of injury crashes.

As these young drivers gain more experience, the numbers involved in injury crashes decline moderately through their 20s and 30s.

The decline accelerates over the age of 40, with driving experience and a mature attitude to safety.

Older drivers are safer than young drivers - just 8 per cent are over 70 and they are involved in around 4 per cent of injury crashes; 15 per cent of drivers are in their teens and twenties, but are involved in 34 per cent of injury crashes.

Older drivers have the fewest number of casualties per driver but age-related frailty makes them much more likely to be killed or seriously injured.

They are more likely to drive older cars which offer less protection to the occupants.

Drivers over 85 are four times more likely to have caused a crash than to have been an innocent victim of one

You can read the full report here - it's very interesting.

The RAC report Driving Choices for the Older Motorist points out:

There is a considerable body of research into the safety of older drivers. If collision rates are calculated on a per-licensed-driver basis, older drivers up to the age of 80 have collision rates that are comparable to those of middle-aged drivers. However, the increased frailty of older drivers means that they are more likely to be killed or injured in a collision than their younger counterparts.

RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister says:

We are unlikely to see re-testing at 70 because, despite the myths, older drivers are no less safe than other age groups. Re-testing in this way could also contravene recently-passed equality legislation.

IloveJudgeJudy Fri 10-May-13 09:18:41

I would highly recommend them taking an institute of advanced motorists course. DM has done one and it's transformed her driving. She's better now and more confident than she's ever been.

NUFC69 Fri 10-May-13 09:57:05

To be honest, most unsafe drivers I see are younger people who quite often drive too fast, are too impatient, etc. A neighbour lost her life when a 17 yo newly qualified driver decided to answer a text on her mobile phone. There are very few elderly drivers who will be texting or talking on their phones whilst they are driving, I guess. My point is that there are stupid people of all ages about.

NinaHeart Fri 10-May-13 10:15:42

YABU Ageist. Young drives are statistically more liely to have an accident.
And also, with the raising of the retirement age, people of roughly this age are deemed fit enough to work but not to have the means to get there?

NinaHeart Fri 10-May-13 10:16:19


Sparklingbrook Fri 10-May-13 10:20:25

Maybe an optional refresher course. i have been driving for years but parallel parking wasn't even in the test nor a theory test. My Mum passed her test in 1957, I have no idea what that test was like.

Some of the older generation around these parts drive dangerously slowly. sad

Seeline Fri 10-May-13 10:25:05

YANBU - I think alot of elderly people are reluctant to admit that their bodies are not as reliable as they once were. I also think that people (of any age) do not realise how poor their eyesight has become as it generally deteriorates over time and you 'get used to it'. IME many older drivers do become more hesitant, which whilst unlikely to result in them having major accidents, can cause frustration in other drivers which results in them having accidents.

exexpat Fri 10-May-13 10:30:01

Younger drivers have a higher overall accident rate, but older drivers have a higher rate per mile driven - they tend not to drive so far or so fast, but they have a lot of accidents at junctions and roundabouts because of eyesight problems, hesitation etc.

CMOTDibbler Fri 10-May-13 10:36:10

YANBU - and contary to popular belief, its actually incredibly hard to get an elderly unsafe drivers license taken away from them. The GP cannot do this outright unless that person has a diagnosed condition which is on the DVLAs list of non driving conditions, and apart from persuading someone to surrender their license there is actually no way to get a revocation. Not even calling the police.

NiniLegsInTheAir Fri 10-May-13 10:44:55

YANBU. My Uncle had a motorbike accident a few years ago that almost killed him (not his fault)and when he wanted to start driving a car again he had to go through a test, although not the full driving test, to be sure he was safe.

My FIL (60's) and my parents (50's) drive totally differently to people my age as they were taught different methods. Surely as time and cars advance it should be a standard thing to bring the skills of drivers up to current methods? My husband passed his test 10 years, I passed mine 4 years ago and even then we were taught differently, which shows how things change.

I fail to see how this is ageist.

valiumredhead Fri 10-May-13 11:25:36

I completely agree OP.

somebloke123 Fri 10-May-13 11:33:20

I know that there are some medical tests (e.g. short-term memory test to flag up Alzheimers) where it is mandatory to inform the DVLA that you have taken it.

Of course it's sad if an elderly person has to give up driving if they are isolated and dependent on a car for social contacts but I guess it sometimes has to happen.

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