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Making Roads Safer for Older Drivers

24 November 2021

Older drivers (70+) do not pose a significant risk to other road users, but their relative frailty means that they are over-represented in serious crashes – particularly those over 80.  A new report from The Older Drivers Task Force highlights that:

  • For drivers over 80, the rate of being killed or seriously injured, per licence held, is as high as for those aged 21-29
  • Serious injuries among the young reflect inexperience; for older drivers it’s about their fragility
  • We have an ageing population so expect huge increases in licences held by older drivers
  • So older driver deaths will increase if we do not take decisive action now
  • Car driver deaths in the 70-79 age group are forecast to increase by 40% over the next 20 years, and by more than a quarter in the 80+ age group

A series of recommendations will help curb these increases. 

Setting targets to reduce deaths and serious injuries for drivers over 70 by 50% by 2030 and to have a longer-term aspiration for zero deaths by 2050 is a key recommendation in Supporting Safe Driving into Old Age, a summary report issued today by a team of experts funded by the Department of Transport.

Other proposals include:

  • introducing mandatory eyesight testing with an optometrist or medical practitioner providing a driver ‘MOT’ of eyesight at licence renewal at the age of 70 and at further renewals; 
  • a programme of making T junctions safer – a notorious risk-point for older drivers;
  • immediate research into the impact of physical and cognitive medical conditions, including diabetic peripheral neuropathy, that may contribute to pedal confusion;
  • standardised content for Driving Appraisals and certified and trained instructors to assist older drivers; 
  • and a national roll-out of an alternative to prosecution for careless driving for older motorists. 
  • For vehicles, the report also recommends that the government takes on board:
  • EU standards of vehicle safety technology and
  • further research into advanced occupant restraint systems such as split buckle or crisscross seat belts in recognition of the frailty of older drivers and passengers. 

RoadSafe is an active member of the Older Drivers Task Force chaired by John Plowman which was originally commissioned in 2016 to make its recommendations, acknowledging the importance of people living an active and healthy life into older age, and that age itself does not give an indicator of how fit a person is to drive. The aim is to support older drivers to continue to drive while they are still safe to do so.

The report can be downloaded here

The first report from The Older Drivers Task Force  published in 2016 - Making Older Drivers Safer for Longer is available here:

More knowledge is available on the Older Mobility web site here