Sounds a bit harsh doesn’t it? Nevertheless recent research reveals that nearly half of those polled think that the ancient ones should be banned from the road completely. Where the line is drawn is a matter of opinion but the consensus among those who have hardened their hearts to the old folk think that it should begin from the age of sixty, which, if you’re sixty, is no age at all. In fact, a majority believe that older motorists should have to retake their driving test, starting at the age of 60.
The Reasons Why
The feeling is that, as we age, our reaction times slow down and our eyesight worsens. This generalisation is popular but not necessarily valid since it depends upon the fitness of the creaky bunch. Some elderly people retain quite a high level of fitness and with the benefit of spectacles can see as well as the next person. The theory also does not take into account the high level of automatic safety features now ranged across our cars; visual and aural alerts, steering wheel nudges and the like.
This same generalisation is applied to speed. It’s a standing joke that older drivers are slower drivers and therefore get in the way. Conversely of course, it could be said that they are simply taking care on the roads. This is borne out by the statistics that indicate older drivers are safer drivers; any insurance company will say so. It is also wrong to state that ageing motorists don’t remember the rules of the road; rules that have been instilled in them over many years. If such a driver was forgetting things like that then it becomes more of a medical matter and thus could be a cause for concern.
That’s why, over the age of seventy, drivers have to renew their licence every three years and self-declare themselves to be fit to drive. It is not wrong to suggest that a tightening up of this legislation wouldn’t hurt, but where is that line drawn? For, balance, it should be said that a lot of research over recent years does not support this view. It is certainly true however that some drivers should not be on the road; the thing is though, not all of them are old.
It’s Not Just The Old Ones
There’s a school of thought that suggests seventeen is simply too young to begin a life on the highway since these youngsters haven’t come to grips with the realities of modern motoring. More than half of adults reckon new drivers should be eighteen or even among the hard-liners, twenty-one. Cue howls of anguish from the younger generation who can’t wait to get on the road. Criticism works both ways.
Younger drivers it is thought take more risks when driving. In fact, 66% of respondents thought this. They think youthful motorists are not mature enough to drive on the roads and that they actually cause more crashes. This seems factual given the enormous sums young people have to fork out for car insurance.
The upshot of this is that as many people blame the old and the young equally for crashes when this is not always the case. The cold, hard truth is that new drivers are the most at risk group and older drivers are among the safest; up to a point. Figures evidence that drivers over eighty-five do start to have more crashes as their faculties fade and their driving experience alone is no longer enough. The trick is to persuade them gently that the game is up. That’s a tough call because for many it is personal independence that is at stake.
So do we unfairly stigmatise older drivers? This debate will run and run. Right now though there is no age barrier to the buying of cars and as luck would have it we always have a wide array of quality used cars
available for all drivers; new and more experienced.