Massive spike in elderly motorists passing their driving tests

Dr Hilary discusses the risks for older drivers

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According to new data from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), the number of driving tests taken by those aged 50 and older has increased by 259 percent in the last year. Around 3.5 times as many tests taken by this age group in the 2021 to 2022 period, than the previous 12 months.

Over 50s naturally account for a much smaller percentage of learner drivers, with the majority – 65.8 percent – of tests undertaken in the last year being taken by 17-to-25-year-olds. 

However, this new data has revealed that 25,805 of the tests conducted in the last year were taken by those aged 50 and over, according to Retirement Villages.

It has been estimated that there will be more than one million drivers over the age of 85 on UK roads by 2025, with motoring groups calling for change to protect elderly drivers.

There are more than 134,000 drivers over the age of 90 on the road in the UK, with more than 5.7 million drivers aged over 70 – almost double the number in 2012.

Stewart Moore, Chief Customer Officer at Retirement Villages, commented on the data, saying it was encouraging that more elderly drivers were on the road.

He said: “It is common now to start learning to drive at the age of 17. However, it was not this accessible or essential 30 or more years ago, so it is great to see more older adults learning this new skill.

“Pandemic lockdowns gave all of us an abundance of time to explore new hobbies, interests and learn new skills. 

“Many of us added to bucket lists or really considered what adventures and activities we wanted to do when restrictions were lifted. 

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“As normality has resumed in the last year, these new social and lifestyle opportunities have opened up for all, and it’s great to see over 50s making the most of this and learning new skills, such as driving, with 37 percent of this age group passing on their first test attempt too.”

When a motorist reaches the age of 70, they are required to renew their driving licence every three years. 

Renewal is free of charge and any elderly drivers will be sent a letter reminding them to renew before they turn 70.

Drivers should apply for any categories covered on their old licence, if they still want to be able to drive them after they renew their licence.

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If they don’t apply for any categories previously covered, they will only be able to drive a car in future.

Mr Moore added: “Driving and travelling by car can open up a whole world of opportunities and freedom for all adults, including; jobs and volunteering, an active lifestyle, social adventures, and discovering new locations. 

“This is especially important to retirees so that they can continue to enjoy an active post-work lifestyle, bringing with it exploration and adventure which contributes to independence in this stage of life.”

He added that car park facilities were vital for elderly drivers, saying it was “extremely important”.

Stewart Moore said that with car parking, elderly drivers can continue to use their cars to travel to family members, go out on day trips, and go about their day-to-day activities.

The DVLA will send older people a D46P application form 90 days before their 70th birthday.

All drivers are advised to apply for a new licence online, as paper applications may be subject to delays.

An poll in August found that 86 percent of readers said that elderly motorists should not have to retake their driving test.

However, 13 percent – more than 900 people – voted that they were in favour of elderly drivers being prompted to retake their test.

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