80% of 70+ drivers (4,344,542 individuals) have no plans to give up their licences yet

With a grant from the Department for Transport, IAM RoadSmart recruited Dr Carol Hawley from the University of Warwick to produce an update on Keeping Older Drivers Safe and Mobile: A Survey of Older Drivers, first published in 2015.

In the survey the majority (79%) felt they were excellent drivers and would not consider giving up for years. Only a doctor/GP or optician/optometrist, who are considered the most influential people to give advice on giving up driving, were likely to convince them to relinquish their licence for health or eyesight reasons.

Neil Greig, Policy & Research Director from IAM RoadSmart, said: “We need a joint education campaign to help drivers start to plan for the retirement of their driving licences at an earlier age, working in partnership with the government, health professionals, pension advisors, financial advisors, and transportation experts.”

“A wider range of easily accessible mature driver focused information is needed for consumers on accessible vehicle designs, mobility features, journey planning and mobility costs to help inform these campaigns. Mature driver reviews should be encouraged, and the government should consider the idea of offering them on prescription to encourage uptake and equal access.”

Survey findings on Older Drivers ability to drive

  • 79% rated their driving ability as good to excellent.
  • 79% said that driving was very or extremely important to them.
  • Drivers aged 70 and over had checked the current driving regulations more recently than younger drivers, probably because they had visited the DVLA website to renew their licence at age 70.
  • 97% of mature drivers surveyed say they intend to continue driving for the foreseeable future.
  • The most important reasons to continue driving were for independence and convenience.
  • Most current drivers would consider giving up driving if they had a health condition or if a health professional advised them to stop driving, especially if advised by a General Practitioner (GP)/Doctor or Optician/Optometrist.
  • Only 164 drivers said they had been involved in an accident whilst driving in the last three years.  Of these, the majority were men, which may be partially explained by their higher annual mileage. 
  • Over 40% of current drivers said they never avoided driving in difficult conditions, such as driving at night, driving in bad weather, driving long distances, or driving in rush hour. 
  • Over half of current drivers said they never avoided driving on busy or unfamiliar roads or on motorways.
  • Drivers aged 70 and over were significantly more likely than younger drivers to avoid driving at night, at night in the rain, and driving long distances.

The survey took place early in the pandemic, many respondents reported missing a routine eyesight test, visual problems or medical problems were left unchecked, thus potentially making them unsafe to drive.

  • 532 people (17.4%) said they had missed a routine eye test.  
  • 127 people (4.1%) confirmed they had a visual problem they were unable to get checked due to the pandemic.
  • 396 (12.9%) confirmed they had a medical problem they were unable to get it checked

Neil added: “IAM RoadSmart are already working with local authorities like Warwickshire, Lincolnshire, York and in South Wales, amongst others, on initiatives to help local residents update and improve their driving skills, increase confidence and stay mobile for as long as safely possible. We need more of these across the country.”