Should we be driving until we’re 80?

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There’s been a lot of debate over how old is too old when it comes to driving, but new plans could see UK drivers staying behind the wheel until at least the age of 80 – a decade later than the law currently states.

Currently, when motorists reach the age of 70, they must send off their licence and declare that they have no health or eyesight issues in order to make sure they’re still fit to drive.

The DVLA is, however, said to be struggling with the costs of renewal applications from drivers over the age of 70, as they currently have to renew their licence every three years. In fact, The Mirror reports that the DVLA is now having to assess 750,000 OAP drivers a year in order to ensure they’re fit to drive – that’s 1.4 million items of ‘medical mail’ every year.

The proposals to change the renewal age to 80 would allow the agency to cut out these admin cots, but there are concerns over the impact the changes could have to road safety.

‘Little or no impact to road safety’

Department for Transport official, Mary Reilly, explained that the DVLA must become “significantly more efficient, and provide better value for money.” Despite concerns, Ms Reilly also claimed that raising the renewal age from 70 to 80 would have “little or no impact on road safety”.

Road safety charity, Brake, however, say that medical checks on older drivers should become stricter. A spokeswoman said, “It is concerning that the DfT is considering raising the age for licence renewal.

“The regulation that’s in place is there for a reason. At this age, conditions that can significantly impair your ability to drive safely become much more common, so it’s essential we have robust procedures to ensure older drivers are not inadvertently putting themselves and others in grave danger.”

What’s causing even more concern amongst road safety professionals is the fact the government’s own figures show that there were 10,947 accidents in 2011 involving drivers over the age of 70. This is only 972 less than the number of accidents involving drivers ages 20-24 in the same year.

A spokesman for the DfT said no changes will be made until people have had the chance to have their say:

“The review of the DVLA has made several recommendations to improve the efficiency of the service.

“Any change to the current driving licence renewal age would require extensive consultation and no decisions have been made.”

What do you think? Should the changes be made or is 80 too old to be on the road? Comment below or tweet us at @miDriveApp.

Image via Leon Hart

Last modified: 3rd March 2014

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