Following a freedom of information request by the Institute of Advanced Wheel-Shufflers, the DVLA has disclosed that the number of drivers aged over 80 on Britain’s roads has topped one million. The oldest driver is said to be a 106 year old woman; this means she passed her test nearly 90 years before today’s teens, who are equally qualified in the eyes of the law to tackle five-lane motorways, multiple roundabouts, and bustling city centers.
The news isn’t all that surprising. Every time some old dear steers her Austin Metro onto the train tracks, or drives the wrong way up the M1, the debate on ‘older’ drivers is reignited. Interestingly, new figures point out that drivers over the age of 80 are three times less likely to be involved in an accident as those aged between 17 and 19. They are, however, significantly more likely to sustain serious injuries from said accidents.
Maybe it’s just that they’re not going fast enough, it’s pretty hard to have an accident if you never exceed a steady 25mph.
Calls for pensioners to undertake compulsory retests have largely fallen on deaf ears in the last few years, and this latest revelation isn’t likely to change that.
Simon Best, chief wheel-shuffler, says: “Rather than seeking to prevent older people from driving, we should make them more aware of the risks they face, and offer them driving assessments to help them eliminate bad habits.”
I’m not sure “offer” is the most appropriate word. For their own safety, and the safety of others, we must introduce some form of assessment to ensure that people who passed their tests 50, 60 or even 70 years ago are still fit to drive on our ever-changing roads. Besides, I’m sure the majority of pensioners still consider themselves able to drive, and therefore wouldn’t take up such an opportunity even if it were offered to them.
Maybe we should keep it fair and retest everyone every 10 years… now there’s a thought.