The UK population is, on average, getting older. Naturally this means there are more older drivers on Britain's roads. In fact, in the UK there are 1.2 million full licence holders in their eighties, 100,000 in their nineties and around 250 centenarians. All in all there are over four million driving licence holders over the age of 70 in the UK.
The feeling of freedom that comes with getting behind the wheel of your first car never really goes away. Whatever your age, it brings with it a sense of independence. Reaching different milestones in life shouldn’t be a reason to hang up the car keys, but there are a few things you should think about.
What age should you stop driving?
As there are no laws set in place as to when you have to stop driving, it really depends on your health and ability to drive. Together with your GP, you should have regular check-ups to see if you’re still up for the demands of the road.
Once you do hit the age of 70, you’ll need to renew your driving licence, and every 3 years after that. There's no driving licence renewal fee and the DVLA will send you a renewal form 3 months before your birthday. You won't have to retake your test, but you will have to declare any medical conditions you have and confirm that you meet the eyesight standards.
If you’re concerned about how age may affect your driving, you can book a driver assessment test with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). It won’t be a pass or fail-style test but they will feed back on any issues they pick up during the session, as well as suggesting ways for you to improve.
Are older drivers more dangerous on the road?
Drivers under 20 are more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than those over 70. This is partly because older drivers limit when and how far they drive – avoiding busy or complex junctions. It's also because, as shown in our animation, they’re also more likely to visit familiar locations like local shops and relatives at quiet periods while also avoiding night time driving and rush hour traffic.
The numbers behind drivers over 70
Owning and driving a vehicle is important to many people and for many reasons. A car isn’t just a practical way of getting around, it can also become part of who you are. And you’re not alone in thinking that way. According to healthcare charity Independent Age:
- 73% of drivers aged 70 and over would feel reluctant to ask friends or family for lifts if they were no longer able to drive
- One in 20 (5%) say they don’t have any friends or family they could ask for a lift
- 44% of drivers aged 70 and over say they would feel like they’d lost part of their identity if they were not able to drive
How to stay safe as an older driver
According to data gathered by the Older Drivers Task Force, "drivers over the age of 70 are less likely to be involved in crashes involving speed, loss of control or alcohol". Despite these encouraging signs, there are extra steps you could take to further extend and enjoy your driving life, such as:
- Making modifications to your car to assist any visual or physical ailments
- If you have difficulty while walking you may qualify for a Blue Badge which gives you access to accessible parking
- Having regular medical and driving assessments
- Telling the DVLA about any medical conditions that may affect your ability to drive
We’ve been on the road for over a hundred years and we’re still here to lend a helping hand. Get breakdown cover today and keep your car moving in the right direction. For even more advice on age and driving, check out our safety for older drivers page.