Over 70s could avoid fines for careless driving under new recommendations

2 December 2021, 10:38

5.7 million people in Britain could avoid points on their license
5.7 million people in Britain could avoid points on their license. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Older drivers could avoid prosecution for careless and dangerous driving after a government funded report recommends alternative measures for over 70s.

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The Older Drivers Task Force said in a report that assessments of driving skills should be offered to all motorists aged 70 and above who are caught committing offences such as accidentally running a red light, unnecessarily slow driving, or poor motorway lane discipline.

Latest Department for Transport (DfT) figures show there are 5.7 million people in Britain aged 70 and over with a full driving licence, including 489 who are at least 100.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Rob Heard, Chair and Founder of the Older Drivers' Forum said: "Well actually if you think about it Nick, there aren't actually different laws depending on your age in one way.

"We already have a national driver offending scheme for many different offences from speeding, careless driving and things that cover all age groups.

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Older people are not more dangerous drivers

"What we actually said is older people and certain vulnerable road users, people suffering with adaptions in their vehicles and underlying medical conditions, we feel need to be catered differently and looked after and supported for their needs individually.

"So that is why we’re suggesting that they undertake, rather than a course with one of the national schemes that exist for everybody, we recommend they undertake an assessment.

"Because the assessment will check that they are fit or unfit to drive."

Fitness to Drive evaluations are currently only made available by a handful of police forces, such as Hampshire Constabulary.

When someone is found to be unsafe behind the wheel drivers are assessed by occupational therapists and driving instructors.

A report is sent to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) who considers whether to revoke their licence.

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The report also called for a re-design of T-junctions, replacing them instead with roundabout or traffic lights systems to make them safer for older drivers who struggle to use them safely.

But it was also stated that older drivers do not pose a "significant risk" to other road users but their "relative frailty" means they are over-represented in serious crashes.

Experts say the recommendations could help to reduce deaths and serious injuries among older drivers.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "Allowing older drivers to remain mobile is critical to their mental and physical wellbeing, but so is safety.

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"A system which helps people address their shortcomings rather than simply penalises them could help maintain this balance.

"Most older drivers are very safe and self-regulate their driving, avoiding travelling at night or during rush hour, for example.

"But any encouragement we can all be given to reassess our ability to drive safely should be welcomed, not just after an incident but throughout our driving lives."