Should Five-Yearly Tests For Elderly Motorists Be Made Available To All Drivers?

ELDERLY motorists aged 75 and over could face five-yearly cognitive and eyesight tests to assess their ability to drive safely.

But why should these tests be strictly for elderly drivers?

The Driving Instructors Association (DIA) believes these types of tests should be made available or even compulsory to all drivers.

DIA General Manager Eddie Barnaville said: "We support the idea of tests for the over 75’s but why restrict them to just this age group?

"With 41 million licence holders on our roads today it is vital to ensure people are roadworthy and safe.

"There are 3,500 road deaths every year in Britain, surely if we assessed the ability of motorists at least every ten years, this figure could be reduced."

If the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) proposals are given the go-ahead motorists aged 75 and over would have to visit an assessment centre and complete a half-hour paper-based test designed to examine their fitness to drive, they would then have to pass a sight test before obtaining a five year driving licence.

Under the current system all drivers must renew their licences at the age of 70 and then every three years; there is no independent verification of ability, unless the DVLA is contacted by relatives or doctors to say the person is no longer fit to drive.

There are more than 1.5 million drivers aged 75 and over on our roads - a figure that is rapidly increasing.

And the proportion of people aged over 70 with a driving licence rose from 15 per cent in 1975 to 47 per cent in 2004.

The number of drivers over 91 is also very high; there were nearly 23,000 licence holders in this bracket in November 2005.

Research by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has indicated that elderly drivers are more likely to be involved in collisions causing death or injury as they have slower reaction times, take longer to spot hazards and are more likely to become confused by traffic rules and road layouts.

The DVLA has stressed that no final decisions have been made yet, adding: "This is independent research and it will be fully considered and consulted on in due course."

14 February 2006 Staff

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