/ Motoring

Drivers should be judged on their ability, not their age

Older driver at the wheel

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?


yes, but it varies depending on driver.

Personally, I believe I am improving, driving slower and always assume that someone will pull out on me.

My Dad on the other hand is gettting worse, much worse. Lane hogging, not indicating and just a general “I don’t give a damn” attitude that helps to clog up the roads. He has had 3 accidents in the last year and had none for the previous 10. Strange how the nearer you get to retirement, the more pre-occupied you are when driving.

A 3 year test would probably just be jumped on by the car lobby as another expense. I’m fine with it if it means getting some of the useless drivers off the road who cause no end of tailbacks for simply not using mandatory driving skills, plus lowered insurance premiums (yet I don’t pay too much as I have not had an accident for 7 years)


Herein reproduced what I said elsewhere in
Convo yesterday with addition.

A mate of mine in Sp writes as to hereunder. Personally
think a driving licence once issued shd NOT be unconditionally
AND w/out limit of time, older folks past a certain age shd or
ought to be retested every so often. Say from when they get
their free TV licence wd not be a bad idea and perhaps
exempt from a testing charge. One guy I know in his
early 80s drives a high performance sports car and his
reflexes inter alia can’t be very good having seen him
both drive and park AND on his own admission.

[“In Singapore anybody over the age of 65 has to be certified to be
fit to drive by a medical practitioner. Recertification is required
every 3 years thereafter.

It is a good policy as some people over the age of 65 (or even 60)
have so poor psychomotor skills that they are a hazard on the road for
themselves and other road users.”]


Young drivers undoubtedly lack experience but SOME older drivers are intolerant and hypercritical. I have no problem with re-testing of older drivers (including reaction times, visual perception and other factors known to deteriorat with age) but it would be useful to test the attitude of all drivers.


Sorry I object to re-testing based purely on age – I haven’t had an accident yet and driven over 60 years. I already have to apply for a renewal license every three years. I am tolerant and patient on the road though the excuses often posted here make me critical of attitudes especially when all statists state those betwen 16 and 25 cause most accidents and problems on the road,.

I have no objection insisting on re-tests for any driver with more than two crashes in three years – or two traffic offences in five years. Automatic retests for uninsured drivers etc etc etc – Let the punishment fit the crime – Bad drivers must be re-tested..Not just a £30 fine. Why should a proven safe driver be penalised simply due to age


Safety on the roads is not just about avoiding accidents. Driving in a considerate way that minimises the risk of others having accidents is also important. I know plenty of people who have an excellent driving record with regard to accidents, but their standard of driving varies a great deal.

There may be a good case for re-testing drivers with a poor record with respect to accidents or motoring offences, but that will not pick up intolerant and impatient drivers.

A driving test may identify poor driving skills but we may have to devise a way of identifying those drivers who frequently drive poorly but would put on a good show with a driving examiner in the passenger seat.


Sadly Wavechange I agree

A test only tests competence not attitude unless the person tested is a complete idiot.

More CCTV scrutiny with ANPR could show poor driving action indicating “instant” intolerance and impatience but again not general attitude. . In fact this is why so many 16 to 25 drivers have and cause crashes – basically because boy (and girl) racers want to race We really need far more traffic police.as they cause drivers to drive more carefully. I know as a youngster I used to go very fast on the open road (but there was no speed limit) never in town.

We also need far more sleeping policemen to physically restrict speed in cities. I really don’t know too many people with accident free records but are poor drivers – but I know plenty who have poor driving records who are also poor drivers – My brother is one. I would not be a passenger in his car and he has had plenty of crashes (he is one of the reasons I have always driven carefully)

But I certainly reject the idea that drivers must be automatically retested just because they reach a certain age especially if they have a very clean driving record with no traffic offences.. I wouldn’t object if ALL drivers were tested every two years.


CCTV with ANPR is what I had in mind. It would be good to see some pilot schemes in operation.



Please don’t use the word ‘idiot’ every time a motoring topic is up for discussion. It just debases the value of comments, at least in my mind.



Sorry, my comment was intended to be more positive. I certainly do value your comments but feel that they are sometimes too strong.