There are now apparently over one million drivers over the age of 80 in the UK (and 122 of them are centenarians!). Good for them I say – as long as they’re still driving safely, what difference does their age make?
I have strong feelings that every driver should be judged on his or her merits. Certainly not by some statistical figure, plucked out of the air by greedy insurers as a reason for ripping people off – young or old, male or female.
My daughter’s boyfriend celebrated his 21st birthday last weekend, and he commented that it was no longer a major milestone, as he couldn’t see how it would change his life.
He can already vote for example, and unless he travels to some US states, it doesn’t make a difference to where he can purchase alcohol. It seemed to him that little would change from passing this special occasion.
Age and gender ‘isms’ still exist
I said I thought his car insurance may come down and he was pleased. He drives a low-powered Ford Fiesta and pays over £1,100 a year despite having passed his test more than three years ago and being accident- and claim-free in that time.
But if his premium does come down, it won’t be a reflection of his driving ability or even his experience, but simply of his age. I had to agree, though I don’t believe it is the way insurance should be approached.
Had he passed his test at the same tender age (shortly before his 18th birthday) but not driven in the intervening years, he would still be charged less now. But his experience wouldn’t be anything like what he’s accrued by paying through the nose for insurance and actually getting three years’ road craft under his belt.
From the outset, he has always paid more for insurance than any equally-inexperienced female driver of the same age. So this is not based on ability, but on the stats generated by others who’ve gone before him. In this case, his gender goes against him, rather than his age.
I thought age and gender discrimination were outlawed, but it seems insurance companies are exempt! You have to have insurance, so it seems pretty harsh that some drivers are penalised for the behaviour of others.
Let’s introduce three-year tests
I think insurers should ask every driver to take a competence-based test every three years, where an examiner can give them a recognised ‘insurance rating’, based on their actual ability. This would help at all ages – and would put an end to the nonsensical penalisation of individuals, not based on experience or ability, but based on population statistics.
Such a system would also help encourage drivers of all ages to maintain and develop their driving skills, and would be a useful means of keeping older drivers competent. To me it’s ridiculous that someone who took their test when they were 17 can go more than 50 years without having further instruction – and then they are simply required to get a doctor’s note to say they can carry on.
Isn’t it time for all drivers to be encouraged to develop their road craft throughout their whole driving career?