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1 in 5 drivers over 50 don’t think they are fit to be on the road, survey reveals

Published in Motors at 12:09, Thursday November 13th, 2014. Last updated at 12:10, Wednesday December 17th, 2014

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A new report from insurance provider RIAS has revealed that one in five of drivers over 50 in the UK don’t think they would pass their driving test today.

As the UK has a developing ageing population, there are now more older drivers on the road than ever before.
The report found that the average older driver took their driving test 40 years ago with nearly half (48%) of over 70s having taken their test more than half a century ago.

The Drive Fit report, launched by RIAS, examines attitudes amongst drivers aged 40 plus, as well as competence and safety on the road.

It showed that more than six in ten (61%) older drivers believe their driving has changed over the years, with almost three in ten (27%) of these saying they now drive slower than they used to.

When it comes to safety on the roads, nine in ten (89%) of drivers aged 60 – 69 and 90% of over 70s drivers do not worry that physical impairments might affect their current driving. Further research has revealed that accidents caused by poor driver vision are estimated to cause 2,900 casualties and cost £33 million a year.

Peter Corfield, Managing Director at RIAS, said: “Our aim is to support safe driving as we get older. It’s not just our driving that alters over time, today, cars are faster, there are more of them on the roads and generally the entire driving landscape has changed.

“If you took your test over 40 years ago, it would be reasonable to assume that quite a lot has changed. The current law allows drivers to declare that they are fit and healthy to drive. Drivers over 70 don’t have to provide evidence of this and we’d like to ask the public whether more robust measures should be considered to ensure safe and fit drivers stay on the road no matter what their age.”

Mr Corfield added: “We have launched our Drive Fit campaign to help re-evaluate our attitude to driving as we get older, empowering both older drivers and their families to ensure older drivers are indeed fit and confident to drive.
“The impact of giving up driving for an older person can be monumental. They rely on their cars for visiting friends and relatives, shopping and maintaining independence.

“However, we must do all we can to ensure they are safe on the roads and that when the time comes to hand back their licences they have the support in place to ensure the loss of independence is minimised.”

More than half (56%) of drivers aged 60 plus said they would be willing to pay for a driving refresher course, if the price was right. At the same time 77% of drivers aged 60 to 69 and 73% of drivers aged 70 plus support the idea of mandatory eyesight tests.

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