Confidence falls as drivers age, research shows
Driving is no doubt a pleasure for some, but for the majority of people it is a necessity, and owning or having access to a car offers motorists freedom, independence and choice.
Everyone who drives can remember that feeling when they first passed their test and the relief, excitement, and perhaps slight apprehension of being behind the wheel without an instructor.
Over time, however, confidence behind the wheel can begin to be eroded and drivers may find themselves less secure in their abilities.
According to the AA Charitable Trust, which offers free refresher driving courses, the older drivers become, the less confident they feel.
Statistics show that the most common age groups to attend the classes are those in the 31 to 40 age bracket and drivers aged between 61 and 70, both making up 21 per cent of attendees.
There is some scepticism among the general public about the ability of older drivers, as research has revealed that 71 per cent of motorists are concerned about the safety of those in their 70s and 80s who choose to get behind the wheel.
Concerns are perhaps compounded by the fact that doctors are failing to advise patients who are over 55 of the effects medication they are taking may have on their driving.
Edmund King, director of the AA Charitable Trust, suggested that people should be allowed to drive as long as possible, with the caveat that they must be safe on the roads.
He said: "Provided you are in good health and have kept your driving skills up-to-date there is no reason why a driver in their 70s, 80s or older, should be any less safe than a younger driver."
Mr King, urged drivers to "take control" when it comes to checking with health professionals about possible side effects of medication and how it may alter a person's ability to drive.
A recent report by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (Pacts) entitled It's My Choice, showed there has been a drastic increase in the number of elderly people who are still driving.
The statistics revealed that in 1975 just 15 per cent of those over 70 held a driving licence, that figure was close to 60 per cent in 2010.
As a result, Pacts is calling for a "national strategy" to cope with an ageing driving population.
Robert Gifford, Pacts executive director, said: ""We have national speed awareness courses for people who are caught speeding and maybe we should have a similar course for older drivers"
Despite concern surrounding elderly drivers, statistics gathered by the Department for Transport in a paper entitled Reported Road Casualties Great Britain show that older motorists have a relatively good safety record.
The over-80s experienced the least amount of fatalities and serious injuries of any group of road users in 2011.
According to the AA, drivers who are aged over 70 are as safe as those aged 25, although those aged over 80 are comparatively less safe.
Even so, the over 80s still have a better safety record than teenage drivers.
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