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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...)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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

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

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.

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?

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!

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.......

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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