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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...)

grimbletart Fri 10-May-13 17:35:28

I am an older person: re reversing in driving test. Yes, you definitely had to reverse round a corner when I took my driving test (I was 17).

My Dad drove into his 80's but was more careful as he got older. He had a progressive eyesight problem (AMD) and he did check with his consultant each time if he was still OK to drive.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Fri 10-May-13 17:44:21

Having beein in the car with my eighty two year old FIL, I think I agree with you OP. He clearly can't see properly yet refuses to do anyting about it. Last year he asked me to complete the application form for the renewal of license as it was "far too confusing".... if he is in this state, feel sure he probably should not be driving. But it's his little bit of independence and with us 250 miles away and not on hand to help, it is a difficult one.

FickleFingerOfCake Fri 10-May-13 17:47:12


After my Grandad died aged 82 a few years ago my mum was taking Gran (a non-driver) to do the weekly shop. They stopped at traffic lights en route. When the lights changed my Gran suddenly said "GREEN" Evidently my mum must have looked a bit nonplussed because Gran quickly reassured her it was not a comment on her driving, but over the last few months prior to my Grandad's death she had been telling him what colour traffic lights were on and reading roadsigns etc because his eyesight was so bad he couldn't see them himself.


My mum had never recently been in a car with the two of them and so had no idea. Gran seemed to think it reasonable as they were only tootling to the local supermarket once a week.

Routine retesting at intervals of x years after the age of y would remove the onus from family and friends to spot deterioration in the driver's capability behind the wheel. (Not that they can do much about it). As someone said earlier driving is a privilege not a right at all costs.

Just my two penn'orth.

MissBetseyTrotwood Fri 10-May-13 18:03:02

I find it terrifying that my Granddad in law is still legally able to drive. He did have to do another test age 90 (I think) and we were all shock when he passed.

The week before his test we'd been driving behind him and watched him sail through a red light at twilight. He still takes the car out now despite the entire family telling him not to.

LayMizzRarb Fri 10-May-13 18:10:33

OP I really understand where you're coming from, not being able to reason with your mum, I have one just as stubborn.
Someone I work with rang the DVLA with regards to her Dad. They were very understaning, and told her she could have anonymity, and they would not tell her Dad it was her who rang. Theyset the wheels in motion to have him tested by an independent examiner She was racked with guilt for a long long time that his licence was revoked because of her, but he was just as much at risk of injuring/killing himself as well.

pussycatwillum Fri 10-May-13 18:38:07

Why shouldn't we all be retested? I am 61 and DS (18) is learning to drive. It is really interesting when he talks me through what his instructor has said, because although I don't think I am a bad driver I have certainly got into some bad habits over the last 30 years.
DH, DS and I did the online practise theory tests and DS and I passed, but DH (who has been driving over 40 years) failed.
A retest every 10 years or so might well be a good idea for everyone.

TheCraicDealer Fri 10-May-13 18:48:44

It's not ageist in the slightest, it's reality. Totally agree with Compo- with young drivers (admittedly statistically the most dangerous group) most accidents are caused by cockiness of lack of experience. These traits are often corrected after a few years behind the wheel, hence why insurance premiums dip after 25.

Elderly drivers, on the other hand, are never going to improve unless someone intervenes. Even if it's just a mandatory eye test, it could just be a matter of telling someone they need specs and they're already in a more advantageous position to be in control of a vehicle. With an ageing population with better, more powerful cars, we could soon see a change in the statistics behind car crashes and fatalities to reflect shifting demographics. The last thing we want is a high number of unsafe drivers on the road. Something simple, like an eye/reaction time test, could weed out those most likely to face issues.

Midlifecrisisarefun Fri 10-May-13 19:42:14

My DGF used to smugly say 'been driving 50yr and had no accidents' we used to used to chorus 'because they were left in your wake' grin
He did give up when he confused brake/accelator and ploughed into another car on a junction..but not because of his skills but the insurance didn't cover the cost of a decent car! hmm He was in his 80s.
We all know the stats on younger drivers, so surely the answer now that the school leaving age is being raised and youngsters are starting work at a older age, is to put it up to 18/19 or even 21 and a top age of 80.

CruCru Fri 10-May-13 20:55:42

Regardless of the age thing, I think everyone should have to have their eyes tested at least every other year to have a valid driving test.

Astley Fri 10-May-13 21:34:01

Couldn't agree more. That evil man who refused to surrender his licence when he should have killed Cassie McCord in Colchester. 16 she was when he drove onto the pavement and crushed her between a wall and his car.

The GP should have the right to take a licence not wait for the DVLA or rely on people having the common decency to know when they are a danger.

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