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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...)

LadyInDisguise Fri 10-May-13 11:36:26

The reality is that as people get older they don't realize that their sight isn't as good, their reactions aren't are quick, they can't quite stay in the middle of the road etc...
And they don't want to listen to relatives because well... it's acknowledging that they are getting old, that they are also starting to be less independent. Things that no one wants to accept until you can't do anything else.

Imho, it's not just eye sight that needs testing. It's a full driving test that is needed. After all, you would expect them to be able to drive in a safely manner and, from my experience, not all older people can do so.

olgaga Fri 10-May-13 11:37:57

It won't happen anyway simply because the number of older drivers will increase as the population ages:

The number of drivers over 90 years old is set to increase by 18% - from 70,000 to 82,400 ? over the next five years. And with the number of 80 year old drivers also set to rise by 22% to around 1,283,000 in the next 10 years, drivers over the age of 65 ? who already make up 25% of licence holders - will also increase.

Anyway, I bet you'll all feel differently when you're approaching 70, still working, and needing the car more and more!

LarvalFormOfOddSock Fri 10-May-13 11:38:39

I agree with you OP but also agree with others that it may be hard to put into practice and justify it under equality law.

As a whole, I do find it amazing and worrying that after you've passed your test, that's pretty much it for life. I passed my test at 17 but haven't driven since I was 19. So haven't driven for 15 ish years yet I could quite legally get in a car (insured and taxed obviously) and head off with hardly any idea what I'm doing anymore!

And those saying that the older population have fewer accidents, isn't it true that they are directly involved in fewer accidents but do actually cause many more through eg driving slowly inappropriately, cutting people up and so on? I could be wrong on that but would love to know the stats.

elastamum Fri 10-May-13 11:43:11

It can be a problem. My BD disconnected the battery on my late DM's car to stop her driving it - she was very unsafe. Eventually she hit another motorist and was asked by the police to surrender her licence.

But console yourself that self driving cars are probably less than 20 years off, so by the time we are all old we will have computer controlled cars that wont let us do stupid stuff that endangers other road users.

Assuming we can afford to, we will probably be able to drive a car until we are too old to get out and about smile

Oblomov Fri 10-May-13 11:48:24

I too agree that people should be re-tested. At what age and how often I am not sure.
I also agree that older people may CAUSE more accidents, not necessarily be involved in them. Surely no stats are available for that.

Ilikethebreeze Fri 10-May-13 11:53:24

When someone sees an optician, of any age, and their sight is not good enough for driving, I am pretty sure |I am right in saying that they report it to the GP who tells you you cannot drive[or the optician does it anyway].
And a GP tells DVLA?

So, if your mum has a diagnosed cataract, she will have been told if she was therefore unfit to drive, solely because of her cataract.

The rest of the stuff, yanbu.

My children have got to the point and are old enough to say to one of their grandparents that they do not want to ride with him anymore.
He drives like your mother except for the driving too fast bit!

LondonMan Fri 10-May-13 12:32:56


At one point my father used to boast of never having had an accident in 30/40 years of driving. And he drove every day.

In the last five years until age 79 it was more a case of collisions per year rather than years between collisions. All car park scrapes. His eyesight was OK, it was just general deterioration of judgement.

NotYoMomma Fri 10-May-13 12:51:48

My nearly 70 year old ex bus driving instructor dad would be horrified at this...

Probably because he isn't nearly as good a driver as he likes to believe ;P

bluebell8782 Fri 10-May-13 13:11:02

YANBU and definitely not ageist.

A younger driver:
Passed their test more recently
Fresher knowledge
Less likely to have picked up bad habits
More likely to speed and perhaps 'show off' but most do mature out of that

An elderly driver:
Less observant
More likely to have picked up bad habits
More likely to have something physically or mentally wrong to impair judgement
Cause more accidents because people get impatient behind them (mostly because of the above reasons)

This isn't everyone, just my opinion on the general population. I think if 70 is the age of renewal then I think that would be a great opportunity for a check-up on driving ability. If they are capable then they have nothing to be concerned about. If they are worried about having their license removed then perhaps that's already telling them they are not safe on the roads.

ReindeerBollocks Fri 10-May-13 13:17:34

YANBU, your reaction times slow down as you get older, making for more nervous elderly drivers. We have a lot of elderly cautious drivers here who cause accidents through over hesitation and driving too slowly.

However to prevent discrimination it would probably be more beneficial to re-test all licence holders every 5-10 years. As everyone will benefit from being reminded of the road rules, and of bad habits picked up over the years.

5Foot5 Fri 10-May-13 13:28:43

YABU Ageist. Young drives are statistically more liely to have an accident.

I disagree. Certainly youger and more inexperienced drivers are statistically more likely to have an accident. But I don't think it is at all ageist to point out that peoples driving skills do often detriorate with age.

My FIL is 82 and still drives. He has realised for himself that long drives are too much for him now but he still does shorter distances. I have been in the car with him and frankly he is nowehere near as sharp as he used to be. Last time he visited he drove out of our estate and narrowly missed a head on collision as he was looking the other way. I was in the passenger seat speechless with shock and then realised that he hadn't even noticed the other car and had no idea how close he had come to hitting it.

cumfy Fri 10-May-13 15:39:18


On "In Touch" Radio 4, there have been at least 2 sight impaired interviewees in the last 3 or 4 years where they casually discussed only giving up driving when they could hardly see.

Sort of: It was getting to the stage where I was having trouble making out the traffic lights and whilst my consultant was supportive, I thought I'd best call it a day.

SlowlorisIncognito Fri 10-May-13 15:58:34

I think there should be regular retests every 10 years. There are many people who drive today who passed a test much less rigourous than the one you have to pass today. When people in their 50s and 60s learnt to drive there was only a fraction of the traffic on the road that there is today. Obviously many people have adapted to that, but some haven't and do drive dangerously at time.

Equally most older people did not do a theory test, and many of them can't answer enough questions on it to pass (anecdotal evidence admittedly). Surely if a young person isn't safe to drive without this knowledge, an older person isn't either?

My mother (in her fifties) was not asked to do any reversing during her driving test. She can reverse safely, but I have met people driving around country lanes who claim to be unable to reverse. Maybe they don't want to, but if they genuinely can't I don't think they are safe to be driving on the roads.

The cost should be kept down so it is affordable to all (why is it just the young who should be prohibited from driving due to high costs?) but I do think it would make the roads safer. Road accidents are one of the highest causes of death for people in their 20s, and not all those accidents are their fault.

LayMizzRarb Fri 10-May-13 16:25:23

Am I the only one to think you should tell your mother to stop driving immediately, and not start again until she can see properly and threaten to call the DVLA and report her if she does not? I realise this will cause tension between you but is not just you two in the picture here.

You say yourself, she cannot see properly, often mounts kerbs and goes through red lights. She is not fit to drive. So any pre schoolers walking along the pavement, or children cycling on the road will be killed or seriously injured when she runs them over. Elderly or disabled people will be at great risk when she disregards the traffic lights.

You have a responsibility to prevent injury and/or death of other people.

IneedAsockamnesty Fri 10-May-13 16:36:10


You people tend to have accidents because they are behaving like idiots old people tend to have them because their ability has changed.

Most of the car accidents around here are either younger people driving to fast but the ones involving old people are because of things like driving the wrong way down the duel carriageway, miss judging distance and mounting pavements not even seeing other cars when they are obvious.

Its my understanding that whilst yes young drivers have more accidents over 70's have more per miles driven.

OddSockMonster Fri 10-May-13 16:40:40

YANBU. Some younger drivers scare me, but older drivers scare me more.

We've just about convinced FIL to have a go at this local Older Drivers Skills Scheme, you might find there's something local to your DM OP.

5Foot5 Fri 10-May-13 16:45:48

My mother (in her fifties) was not asked to do any reversing during her driving test.

Are you sure she is remembering this right?

I am approaching 51 and reversing was very definitely part of the test. And when I was a small girl my mother took driving lessons (gave up before taking a test though) and she certainly had to learn to reverse. In fact it was this and her inability to do it that put her off!

FariesDoExist Fri 10-May-13 16:46:32


My MIL is in her 70's, her driving is shocking. One minute she's dithering at the roundabout, wondering whether to go or not, stalling, causing chaos, and the next minute she's speeding and completely oblivious that she's still got her indicator on and she's confusing everyone. The problem seems to be slower reactions and decision making processes, lack of ability to make a judgement or think quickly.

She wasn't a bad driver when she was in her early 60's. I'm shocked that she still drives and I would never in a million years let her drive with my children in the car.

SilverOldie Fri 10-May-13 16:56:48

I'm in my late 60s and when my car died I made the decision not to replace it. I was a good driver but felt that as I aged, I would not be as safe.

However, if anyone is going to be re-tested on a regular basis it should be those who have/cause the most accidents, ie teens and early twenties.

marjproops Fri 10-May-13 16:58:27

young learners should be taught that theres a volume button on their stereos and they shouldnt have them so loud as to not hear emergency vehicles. and no one else wants to hear their ntss ntss ntss ntss.

ALL drivers be taught there are ashtrays in the car.

that there are indicators in the car.

that there are speed limits for a REASON.

to not park in places/spaces theyre not supposed to.

and that phones/fags and the like should not be used in cars as you need 2 hands to drive.

and breathe.......

upanddown83 Fri 10-May-13 17:09:21

I definitely think there should be some way of testing older people when they're health and confidence starts to deteriorate.
I used to go shopping with my granny every week and we used to park at the far end of the car park so no other cars were near her, the last time she drove I had to reverse out of the space because (i was 17 only had a provisional) she was so anxious she couldn't do it!
When we got home that day and I told my Granda what happened he cut her licence in half! shock
I passed my test a few months later and became her unofficial chauffeur! I think my Granda was right in way as she was only going to get worse and 6 months later was diagnosed with dementia!

LayMizzRarb Fri 10-May-13 17:14:37

I'm shocked that she still drives and I would never in a million years let her drive with my children in the car

But fuck anyone else on the road/pavement. It's ok for them to be killed/injured.

Out of interest, what would you all do if you saw someone stagger drunkenly and get behind the wheel of a car? is that ok, because you're not in the car with them?

MrsSchadenfreude Fri 10-May-13 17:20:39

LayMizz - I could tell my mother until I was blue in the face not to drive. She would just laugh at me. I told her doctor about my concerns. She didn't share them. So - I should ring the DVLA, and say "I don't think my mother's safe to drive," they check with her doctor, who would say "Oh no, she's fine." And no doubt it would be recorded as a malicious phone call.

Alisvolatpropiis Fri 10-May-13 17:26:13


Though I think 60 personally.

My grandmother didn't learn to drive until she was 58 but the average person of her age (74) has been driving since what,the 50's? The tests one has to pass now are slightly more arduous than then

digerd Fri 10-May-13 17:26:56

My dad was a very proud man, and got his first car in the 50s. He didn't need a driving test in those days as he had a motor-bike licence.
When he was 72, he had a blackout driving on a motorway, crashed into the barrier taking a 3rd of a mile of it with him and just missed a lorry on the other side.
He was fine but mum had agonizing whiplash covering her chest and couldn't move for weeks.

Dad gave up driving there and then. That was in 1981. In 1984 he died of a heart attack.

My friends FIL was still driving long distances at 93, but then changed to short distances and died at 95

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