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Driving retest for seniors

There have been calls for people over 70 to resit their driving test, following car accidents involving older drivers. It’s a contentious issue with some compelling arguments on both sides. 

Should older drivers take a retest?

Those who are backing the retest argue that the human cost of unfit driving is considerable, and that people who are unable to drive safely should be prevented from taking the wheel. A number of emotive stories in the media have reported the consequences where an elderly driver has caused a fatal accident. More than 100,000 British people have signed a petition to bring in an additional driving test at age 70.**

driving retest for seniors

But the alternative view is that this would have an unfair impact upon the vast majority of safe older drivers. Accident data suggests that despite the perception that people drive more dangerously in older age, drivers under the age of 20 still have more fatal accidents than drivers over 75.*** So the argument is that the focus should be on young driversrather than older ones.

The Department for Transport said in 2013 that there is no evidence older drivers are more likely to cause an accident, and that it had no plans to restrict licensing based on age. It reported that age alone is not a reliable indicator of a person's fitness to drive.

No matter what your own personal view is on this subject, there are certain requirements for drivers after their 70th birthday.

Driving over 70

Once you reach 70 you need to renew your driving licence, and then do so again every three years. All it involves is completing a form to self-certify that you're OK to continue driving. There's no additional driving test or any formal checks that need to be done, although DVLA might contact you if they have any queries.

If you've developed any medical conditions you'll need to advise your insurer and DVLA. Failing to do that could get you a fine and penalty points on your licence.

Make sure you understand whether the condition means there’s anything to be aware of when it comes to driving. There could be implications linked either to the condition or as a result of side effects from your medication. Seek your doctor's advice.

Steps to keep you on the road

There are plenty of things you can do to help make sure you can continue to drive as long as possible. These include:

Regular eye tests

It's illegal to drive if you can't read a registration plate that is 20 metres away. This is often easy to remedy with glasses. Regular eye checks will not only make sure you can always see but can detect the early onset of any eye conditions.

you should have regular eye tests when driving

Take a driver assessment

RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) conduct Experienced Driver Assessment courses and car tests.  If you want some peace of mind that your driving is still up to scratch they can help. They'll look at your driving skills and, if there are any bad habits lurking, they'll help you address them.

Get a car that suits your needs

You may find buying a new car with features like parking assist or built in sat nav make driving easier or less stressful. Buying an automatic, or a smaller, more manoeuvrable model may suit your needs better.

If anything changes with your health or mobility, you could improve your car’s functionality to suit your needs. Organisations like RICA can help you in adapting your car if you need a bit of extra support. 

Deciding when it's time to stop driving

The most important thing to consider is your own safety and that of people around you. There are many medical conditions which could mean you're not safe to drive.

If you're finding your vision is failing considerably, your reactions are slowing, or you're just finding driving stressful then it may be time to stop. You can always seek advice from your GP.  There’s also information on the www.gov.uk website.

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