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Calls to relax driving licence renewal age

Ministers have been urged to relax the licence renewal age from 70 to 80 years old to ease the strain on the DVLA.

Transport officials are urging ministers to change the driving licence renewal age change from 70 to 80 years old, a move that officials believe would help ease the strain on the Drivers and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

Elderly drivers are meant to renew their licence upon reaching 70. This, according to a report by the Department for Transport (DfT), is putting great strain on the DVLA. The DfT believes relaxing the age would ‘reduce the burden on regulation’ and help lower the £420 million a year it costs to run the DVLA.

There’s no disputing the use of the word ‘burden’. RAC Foundation figures from September 2013 claim the UK is now home to more than 4,018,900 motorists aged over 70, 190 of which are at least a century old. That figure is 15 per cent higher than in 1975. Not only that, the DVLA receives more than 1.6 million items of “medical mail” every year.

“A number of European countries renew driving licences at age 80 or have no limit at all,” DfT official and writer of the report Mary Reilly commented. “Early analysis of information held by DVLA suggests this could be introduced with little or no impact on road safety.”

Road safety charity Brake argued otherwise: ‘It is concerning the DfT is considering raising the age for licence renewal. The regulation that’s in place is there for a reason. At this age, conditions that can significantly impair your ability to drive safely become much more common, so it’s essential we have robust procedures to ensure older drivers are not inadvertently putting themselves and others in grave danger.’

Figures from the DfT state those over the age of 70 account for 9 per cent of all motorists yet only cause six per cent of casaulties. It is actually younger drivers that are the biggest problem, with 20 per cent of drivers are aged under 30 accounting for 35 per cent of driver casualties.

Currently there’s no stopping an elderly driver who is unfit to drive from doing so. They only have to confirm they are fit to drive ─ there’s no medical examination or independent test procedure in place to prove otherwise. That puts the onus on the driver, who may be afraid to give up their freedom.

Know somebody who should retire from driving? You might want to read this.

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