A review of the way that the Drivers and Vehicle Licensing Agency operates has suggested that older drivers should be able to continue behind the wheel for an additional ten years before they have to renew their licence.
The Department for Transport report says that pensioners should be allowed to continue driving until they are 80 in order to save money and make the DVLA more efficient.
However, safety campaigners warn the move could cost lives and insisted that regulations for older drivers should be strengthened, not relaxed. Keep reading to find out more.
Age limit for driving licence renewal should be raised to 80
The Daily Mail reports that the DVLA is ‘groaning under the weight of renewal applications from pensioners who still want to drive in their 70s’. A new review by the Department for Transport (DfT) has argued for the age limit to be raised ‘to reduce the burden of regulation.’
Currently, you have to send your driving licence to be renewed when you reach 70. You must declare if you have any medical conditions which could affect your driving, and you have to confirm that you can still read a number plate at 65 feet. After 70, you must reapply every three years to keep driving.
Now, though, an aging population who still want to drive is resulting in a flood of renewal applications to the DVLA. Almost 60 per cent of over 70s now drive – up 15 per cent from 1975.
Number of driving licence renewal assessments is up more than 50%!
And, over the past ten years, the number of drivers the DVLA medically assesses has jumped more than 50 per cent, from under 500,000 to 750,000 per year.
Mary Reilly, a non-executive director of the DfT, who was asked by ministers to write the review, said that the DVLA, which costs £420million a year to run, must become ‘significantly more efficient, and provide better value for money’.
She said that raising the renewal age could relieve pressure on the DVLA ‘with little or no impact on road safety’. ‘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.’
Safety campaigners warn of more accidents and road deaths
While the initiative could save money, road safety organisations have warned that the move could lead to more accidents and deaths on Britain’s roads. A report published last year by the RAC and Transport Research Laboratory found ten per cent of Britain’s four million drivers over 70 were not fit to be behind the wheel.
Kevin Clinton, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: “Changing the renewal age from 70 to 80 should only be done on the basis of evidence that this would not increase risk.”
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of road safety charity Brake, said: “It is concerning the Department for Transport is considering raising the age for licence renewal: regulation that’s in place for good 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.
“Licence renewal prompts older drivers to check and self-certify they are fit to drive. Brake is calling on government to strengthen fitness to drive regulation to help prevent needless tragedies, such as through compulsory eyesight testing throughout your driving career and health checks for older drivers.”
A DfT spokesman said: “The review of the DVLA has made several recommendations to improve the efficiency of the service. Any change to the current driving licence renewal age would require extensive consultation and no decisions have been made.”