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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 March, 2005, 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK
MoT plan for OAP drivers opposed
Incidents of driving the wrong way on motorways are publicised
Drivers over 70 should not be singled out for compulsory medical tests, groups representing older people say.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is reviewing how it assesses medical conditions for drivers of all ages.

The current rules, already three decades old, rely on all drivers to declare any medical conditions they are suffering that could affect driving.

But there is concern about rising numbers of elderly drivers and the impact on road safety.

Help the Aged, one of the groups consulted said there could be no discrimination against the elderly.

Senior mobility manager Graham Lale said: "Help the Aged supports re-testing and compulsory medicals tests for drivers, in order to encourage safer driving on our roads.
Older drivers have a wealth of experience to draw on and often they are self-limiting
Vince Yearly

"But these measures should apply to all drivers, not just to those over 70.

"We believe, it is discriminatory to automatically label a person over 70 as unfit to drive in comparison to a recently qualified driver."

Age Concern also opposes compulsory tests specifically aimed at the elderly.

Just 15% of those over 70 drove in 1975, but this had risen to 45% by 2003. More than 18,000 licence holders were aged 90 or over in 2002.

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency chief executive Clive Bennett said: "There are 20 million more drivers on the roads today than when the current arrangements were set up 30 years ago.

"The ageing population, together with medical advances means that drivers' expectations regarding the continuation of driving have increased over the period.

"We have therefore commissioned this independent review to examine the current system and identify if there are any areas that may require changes."

But campaigners for the elderly point out that 17 to 24-year-old men are the most dangerous group, and are not swayed by anecdotal evidence such as well-publicised cases of elderly motorists driving the wrong way down motorways.

One of those demanding testing for the elderly is motorcyclist Marcus Watkin paralysed after an 83-year-old man drove into his path.

Mr Watkin wants to see a law brought in obliging drivers, especially older people, to prove their fitness before they can get insurance.

'Thorny issue'

There are health issues like impaired sight and hearing that can affect elderly people disproportionately.

But Institute of Advanced Motorists' spokesman Vince Yearley said making medical tests compulsory was a thorny issue.

"Older drivers have a wealth of experience to draw on and often they are self-limiting.

"We have many members in their 90s who could pass their advanced test, but we know of other people in their 50s who are already suffering a lack of confidence."

He said an annual assessment for drivers, with both a medical consultation and an observation of actual driving by an examiner would be a way forward.

The DVLA's research, undertaken by outside group Risk Solutions, will take in driving and medical experts and will be completed by November this year. Recommendations will follow later.

Some of the tests older drivers will face

Payout biker wants elderly tested
08 Mar 05 |  Shropshire
4.4m damages for paralysed man
07 Mar 05 |  Shropshire
Blind spot on the road
27 Oct 04 |  Magazine
80-year-old in fatal crash named
30 Dec 04 |  Northamptonshire
Pensioner drove wrong way on M8
01 Sep 04 |  Scotland

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