Older Drivers Face Discrimination

(Image Source: Flickr)

Discrimination, on whichever grounds it may be, is something that we are constantly told is one of the shadiest crimes you can commit in the modern world. For years we have fought discrimination against race, gender and sexuality, eventually with ever-growing success. Sadly though, our days of fighting discrimination crimes are not yet over, as there is still one form that remains, even in the most westernised parts of the world, including the UK, and that’s against elderly people.

Rules For Older Drivers

Earlier this year, the government launched a consultation with the backing of the Department of Transport on whether to allow drivers to keep their licences for five years longer, before having to declare and prove they are medically fit enough to drive. The new proposed age is 75, with the current age limit for elderly drivers being 70.

But as one step forward was taken, two steps back were to follow. Within seconds of the announcement road safety groups began competing to condemn the proposals. And it wasn’t just anti-motoring groups behind the discrimination, it was also the RAC, which recently claimed through independent research that 10% of motorists aged 70 are unfit to drive – almost by default, it would seem.

Accidents and Age Groups

As a theory test provider, we are huge supporters of road safety and have a great understanding of the damage car accidents can cause, but why pass the blame to elderly drivers when stats show us that they rarely have much part to play, especially when compared to young drivers.

We do, of course, hear of cases involving dangerous driving from elderly drivers who are confused, but they are rare cases in comparison to the relatively common tragedies of teenage boy racers crashing into trees.

As sad as it is, we have to be aware of the fact that many young drivers who do crash have only passed their test weeks or months earlier. This means two things: firstly that driving instructors are not equipping learners with adequate skills, and secondly that examiners are failing to weed out candidates with a dangerous attitude.

All this, and we still don’t hear of road safety groups requesting young people off UK roads. In fact, what we heard recently are proposed changes to the driving test that pander to the youngsters with a modernised strategy that will raise the current pass rate for learners, which is currently under 50%.

Insurance & Evidence

It doesn’t take much researching to find that insurance premiums for elderly drivers are far lower than those for young drivers. This isn’t simply because they can, or because they’re acting on a hunch, it’s because insurance companies know who will face much higher claims. The data gathered by insurance companies is vital (and 9 out of 10 times, it’s right), because otherwise their business model collapses.

We believe that by forcing elderly drivers away from the road we will take away their independence unnecessarily and encourage social isolation. Instead, many say that there should be no compulsory medical checks at all. If it were down to the duty of every motorist, of any age, to hold off from driving when they are unfit/unable to do so, would this solve the problem all together, without the need for discrimination?