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When are you too old to drive?

07 November 2016 Blog

With the number of drivers over 100 years old having tripled in the last year Motorpoint blogger Ken Gibson debates whether it's time for everyone over the age of 70 to undergo a full independent medical examination to check that they are fit to drive

“I think that everyone over 70 should have to have a full independent medical examination to check that they are fit to drive ”

When are you too old to drive? I ask the question because new figures by the DVLA have revealed that the number of drivers over 100 years old has tripled in a year.

There are now 506 centenarians driving on British roads, up from 182, with the oldest male driver 111, and the oldest female 108. The actual law states that motorists reaching 100 must declare whether they are fit to drive every three years, but they do not need to undergo a medical examination.

Now I’ve just hit the ripe old age of 65 and although I feel fit as a fiddle and consider myself a good driver, there is no doubt I am starting to slow down and I can’t imagine that my driving capabilities will be anywhere near as good with another 35 years passing.

The fact is when you get seriously old your reactions slow dramatically and, in most cases, eye sight also deteriorates. After all it is only natural. The other fact is that British roads are getting ever busier, the speed people drive is faster, which means that anyone behind the wheel needs to be fully switched on.

Which is why I think that everyone over 70 should have to have a full independent medical examination to check that they are fit to drive. The latest official figures reveal that there are now over five million motorists aged over 70 on our roads. But are they all in perfect health and fit to drive? I doubt it.

I understand that driving is essential for the independence of many older drivers - especially in rural areas where there are often no bus or rail services. And as long as they are medically sound they have every right to be on the road but for me I believe there should be proper medical tests in place.

Experts say that many older drivers tend to self-regulate and recognise their own limitations and when to stop driving, but there are more than enough well-publicised incidents involving older drivers to also underline that some do not know when to stop.

It’s a delicate balancing act and not an easy judgement call to make but I think we need to have a re-think on our driving laws because the potential for accidents is to great to ignore this issue. And I am sure that an elderly driver who causes an accident, possibly a fatal one, would find it a dreadful burden to carry.

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About the author

Ken Gibson was Motoring Editor for The Sun for 23 years during which time he became one of the best known motoring newspaper journalists in the world. Over that period Ken tested thousands of cars from super minis to SUVs and super cars, and drove millions of miles all over the world.

As well as writing a blog covering the motoring issues of the day, he also independently road tests and creates video reviews on a cross section of cars sold by Motorpoint.