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Elderly motorists could avoid fines for careless driving, but would need eyesight tests


Motorists aged 70 and above who are caught accidentally running a red light or unnecessarily slow driving should have their skills assessed instead, they said, rather than facing hefty fines or prosecution. The report from the Older Drivers Task Force made a number of “lifesaving” recommendations to the Government as to how it can keep elderly people behind the wheel for longer.

Drivers over 70 currently need to notify the DVLA of any medical condition that may affect safe driving.

Recent research recommended that drivers should have a vision check every five years and every two years for motorists over 60.

In Hampshire, those who opt for a referral course as an alternative to prosecution for careless driving after a crash need to have an eyesight test beforehand.

Of those, just under 70 percent had eyesight deficiencies, and even if these were not a direct contributory factor to the crash, they may well have been indicators of some other problem which did directly contribute to the crash.

When someone is found to be unsafe behind the wheel, a report is sent to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, which decides whether to revoke their licence.

In some cases, drivers are sent away to get lessons and are offered a reassessment within three months.

Those being assessed would avoid the typical £100 fine and three penalty points for careless driving.

John Plowman, chairman of the Older Drivers Task Force, said: “Older drivers are not a major risk to other drivers, though because of their fragility, they are more likely to die in a crash.

“Our road transport system, our roads and vehicles, have been designed for use by fit, middle aged motorists in the middle of the spectrum of road users.

“Looked at through an older driver’s prism, the current road system doesn’t do them many favours. But with careful planning and design, it could be so much better, not only for the older motorist but for all motorists.

“I strongly commend the report to Ministers, officials and others concerned with improving the lives of older drivers and their mobility and safety on our roads.”

According to the data, by 2025, the number of drivers over 85 will double to one million, with the ODTF saying it is “vital that we prepare for this demographic change”. 

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