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Should elderly drivers be required to retake their tests?

22nd Feb, 2024

That’s the question being asked by a new petition that’s recently been submitted to parliament, and whatever side of the fence you sit on, everyone can agree on one thing: it’s certainly ruffled some feathers. Normally, people tend to stop driving mostly at their own discretion as they get older, or if they decide that they don’t want a new vehicle after thinking: I need to scrap my car.

The proposals would change all that though – but only if they go through and succeed in becoming law. So, you might be asking – what are the chances of that?

What’s happening?

As we’ve touched on above, essentially there’s a new petition that’s been submitted for elderly drivers to have to retake their tests to prove that they’re still safe on the roads. Specifically, the petition suggests that the retest requirement should apply to everyone over 65. Or, to use the submitter’s own words:

“I would like the Government to require drivers to retake their driving at 65, if they want their driving licence to remain valid. I travel a lot, and often see older drivers who I believe should not be driving. Some misuse turn signals, others appear to have sight issues. Reactions also worsen with age.”

The petition was only submitted earlier this month (February 2024), and it will run for six months, so it’ll be interesting to see how much traction it builds up in that time.

In case you’re wondering, right now there’s no legal requirement to take your test again once you reach a certain age. It’s true that your licence does automatically expire when you hit your 70th birthday, but it’s not a major issue – you just need to renew it with the DVLA.

Many people choose to voluntarily stop driving once they reach a certain age, as they can often notice their eyesight or reflexes fading, and no longer feel that they’re able to guarantee their own safety (or that of the other drivers around them). However, there’s no universal legal requirement for this decision at the moment, leaving the decision up to the discretion of the individual in question – and that’s perhaps the cause of concern.

What’s been the reaction?

To be honest, people haven’t been happy. At the time of writing, the petition isn’t even at 500 signatures, but the amount of support it’s received doesn’t seem to be proportionate to the amount of press it seems to be generating.

In particular, a lot of the headlines are voicing concerns about discrimination and ageism towards older drivers, and lots of the comments in online articles have pointed out that reaching the age of 65 doesn’t automatically equate to suddenly becoming bad at driving. And of course, statistically it’s still younger drivers that are over-represented in road accidents.

The controversy has been so significant that it’s been enough to get the AA to respond – Edmund King, the President of the AA, has been quite vocal with reminders that there are already massive driving test backlogs, and adding to them with new tests (which may or may not be necessary) maybe isn’t the best idea. In the words of the man himself:

“At the moment, it is very difficult for new drivers. In many areas, there’s something like a six-month delay – there’s a 500,000 [test] backlog. If you then add in checks for older drivers, it really would set the calendar back by years.”

Steve Gooding, the director of the RAC Foundation, was equally reluctant to back retesting older drivers. However, he did support the idea of eyesight checks, saying; “one thing that would allow all drivers – not just those at an arbitrary old age – to help judge their fitness to drive would be compulsory eye tests when licences are renewed.”

What are the chances of the petition succeeding?

Let’s be honest – right now, the chances of the proposals becoming law appear to be slim, especially when you consider all the free press it’s been getting from outrage clicks in the past week or so. That means if you’re within the age band in question, you probably don’t have much to worry about in terms of getting older; it’s still all up to your own discretion. The only thing you really need to concern yourself about is the age of your car, and what happens when that gets too old to drive. And that’s exactly where we come in.

With more than 40 years of experience behind us, we’ve refined our process to make sure it’s never been easier to scrap your car. All you need to do is enter your car reg and postcode into the fields on our site, and we’ll have your scrap car quote to you in seconds. So… curious to find out how much your car is worth?

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