Drivers aged 80-plus at record high as RAC calls for eye tests

Elderly driver - Digital Vision/Jose Luis Pelaez Inc
Elderly driver - Digital Vision/Jose Luis Pelaez Inc

Elderly drivers have hit record numbers, Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency data reveals.

Some four per cent  – 1.6 million drivers – are aged 80-plus, analysis shows.

It is the highest figure in records dating back to 2012, and an increase from 1.4 million two years ago.

Now auto charity the RAC Foundation has urged the Government to introduce compulsory eye tests for all drivers during licence renewals.

Department for Transport figures show older drivers involved in serious crashes are more likely to have failed to look properly than younger motorists.

The error contributed to 30 per of incidents in which at least one person was killed or seriously injured on roads between 2016 and 2021 involving drivers aged over 70, compared with 22 per cent for younger drivers.

Coroner calls for action

Steve Gooding, RAC Foundation director, said he did not support people being required to take another full driving test when they reach a certain age, but said: “We do back compulsory eye tests for all drivers when they renew their photocard licences.”

He added there was a “strong case” for an assessment of “the visual, mental and physical skills needed to carry on driving safely”  for older motorists.

A senior coroner called for “action” this week on how older people’s suitability to drive is checked after a pensioner on a mobility scooter was killed by a 95-year-old driver.

Kathleen Fancourt, 89, died after being hit by a car driven by an older man – who has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving – at a pedestrian crossing showing a green light.

Penelope Schofield, senior coroner for West Sussex, who conducted the inquest, wrote to Mark Harper, the Secretary of State for Transport, and Julie Lennard, CEO of the DVLA, about her concerns.