Government mulls driving age extension

March 3, 2014 | By | In News

The Government is considering raising the age at which older drivers will have to renew their licence, in an attempt to easy pressure and costs at the DVLA.

Currently, a driver has to apply for a renewal at the age of 70 and prove that they aren't suffering from health or eyesight problems that should keep them from getting behind the wheel.

However, after a review by the Department for Transport (DFT), that age limit could be raised to 80.

Transport officials suggest that the age increase will improve the Drivers and Vehicle Licencing Agency’s (DVLA’s) efficiency and save money.

“A number of European countries renew driving licences at age 80 or have no limit at all. Early analysis of information held by DVLA suggests this could be introduced with little or no impact on road safety.” – DFT official Mary Reilly

But safety campaigners disagree and believe that the regulations for older drivers should be strengthened, not relaxed.

A spokesperson for road safety charity Brake, told the Daily Mail: "It is concerning the DFT is considering raising the age for licence renewal. The regulation that’s in place is there for a reason. At this age, conditions that can significantly impair your ability to drive safely become much more common, so it’s essential we have robust procedures to ensure older drivers are not inadvertently putting themselves and others in grave danger."

According to the DFT review, the DVLA is struggling to deal with the large amount of renewal applications for pensioners who want to continue driving into their 70s.

With the population living and staying healthy for longer, the DVLA is being inundated with around 1.4 million items of what it calls "medical mail" each year.

The DVLA now medically assesses over 750,000 drivers a year, a figure that has risen 50 per cent in the last year, meaning than nearly 60 per cent of over 70s are still legally entitled to drive.

Mary Reilly, the DFT official who conducted the review, told The Mirror: “A number of European countries renew driving licences at age 80 or have no limit at all. Early analysis of information held by DVLA suggests this could be introduced with little or no impact on road safety.”

Despite these claims, a report conducted last year by the RAC found that 10 per cent of elderly drivers were not fit to be in control of a vehicle.

According to the Government's own figures, there were 10,974 accidents involving a driver over the age of 70 in 2011, compared to 11,946 involving young drivers aged 17-19, who are considered to be the greatest risk on the roads.

Do you think extending the driving age is a good idea? Have your say below.

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