There are fears a test for dementia in drivers over 75 recently introduced in Japan could put older motorists off their cars if introduced in the UK.
Leading charities and motoring organisations have spoken out about their concerns a similar ‘senility’ test, like that introduced in Japan, could cause problems here.
The country recently announced the test following a series of deaths caused by elderly drivers. It will see drivers undergo a 30-minute cognitive assessment to check for signs of dementia.
Neil Greig, policy and research director for IAM RoadSmart, said that if these measures were applied in the UK, they “could put older people off driving when they could still be safe”.
He added: “We believe there is no set age at which all older drivers become a higher risk, although those over 85 do tend to have more blameworthy crashes.
“For the general population we support raising the age of licence renewal to 75 but they must provide the results of an eyesight check. Such checks are free and widely available.
“What the Japanese experience does suggest, however, is that more options for those drivers actually caught breaking the law or observed having problems might be a fruitful avenue to explore. Police forces such as Hampshire have already developed older driver courses as an option to prosecution.
“We also want to see better information made available on the whole issue of giving up driving, better training of doctors to spot the early signs of driving problems and the wider availability of non-judgemental on road assessments to allow drivers to check their fitness to drive.”
Mervyn Kohler, external affairs manager for Age UK, backed up the idea that introducing dementia checks in to the UK would have a negative effect on drivers. He said: “We don’t believe that introducing dementia checks for elderly drivers is the answer to improving road safety longer term.
“Past findings have shown that the cause of many accidents on UK roads involving older people can be attributed to problems with their eyes so introducing mandatory eye tests for drivers aged 75 and over would be a far more beneficial way of tackling this issue. It would also enable older drivers to maintain their independence behind the wheel and enjoy a fuller and healthier older age.
“When it comes to driving everyone is responsible, at whatever age, for making sure they are safe on the road. It’s important that older people are given the necessary support to continue driving safely so they are able to retain their ability to get out and about.”