Tomorrow’s fish and chip paper – Too old to drive?

As a 92 year old man was fined and given penalty points for careless driving we were asked, yet again, whether older people should be kept out of the driver’s seat.  Logan Steele responds.

Woman driving a car

Myths about older drivers being more dangerous or nervous road users are just that – myths, we said.   The most recent example of the irresponsible and reckless behaviour of younger drivers was the young man pictured driving at 65mph on Scotland’s busiest motorway while using an iPad.

Cars offer mobility, independence and connectivity. Use of mobile devices while on the move, in charge of a vehicle, is a growing concern and a real danger. Fines don’t seem to be having an impact on such behaviour.  Evidence from a recent Age Scotland Enterprises‘ survey shows that while over a fifth of drivers admit to using mobile phones while driving, the figure drops to just 7% in over 65s. This in itself points towards increased age defining more responsible driving practices.

The research found that 89% of over 65s take to the roads every day or every other day. They are not only driving on a regular basis, they are doing so with confidence, with almost two thirds (63%) feeling very confident in their abilities.

The over 65s also display a range of responsible driving behaviours (over and above their abstinence of use of phones at the wheel). Over eight in ten say they always use their rear-view and wing mirrors in comparison to 74% of all other age groups. Furthermore nearly three quarters (73%) of over 65s always check their blind spot compared to 66% of all other age groups.

We can also challenge the stereotype of older drivers being slow, nervous drivers.  While 29% of over 65s say they feel nervous when driving in rush hour, this is lower than in all of all other age groups at 31%. And as little as a quarter of older people (26%) are nervous driving in unfamiliar places – less than all other age groups (37%).

The insurance industry should take this evidence on board and base insurance premiums on ability and not on the false assumption that age equals poorer driving.

There should be no upper age limit on getting car insurance. Many older drivers draw on years of experience behind the wheel and are reliant on their vehicles to maintain their independence.

Logan Steele is General Manager Age Scotland Enterprises.

Age Scotland offers a free guide to Driving in Later Life and car insurance for older drivers.

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