OLDER motorists are more willing to prove how safe they actually are on the roads than perhaps first thought according to new research from the UK's leading independent road safety charity IAM RoadSmart.
Of more than 3,000 motorists aged over 60 surveyed, some 55 per cent agreed with the statement that senior drivers should be retested every five years after their licence renewal.
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, said: "Far be it from being driven off the road, our research shows that many older drivers are confident in their driving and happy for their health and driving skills to be periodically tested to determine that they are still up to scratch."
In fact, many older drivers are willing to conduct such tests independently, with nearly two-thirds of respondents (65 per cent) claiming that if there was a DIY kit available to test their driving fitness, they would use it.
Mr Greig added: "With the extended backlog of patients waiting to see a GP, we would encourage older drivers to independently monitor behaviours or health patterns which may impact their driving habits and general health more than usual. In cases where there is any doubt, older drivers should temporarily put the brakes on getting in the driver's seat."
Nearly half (46 per cent) of drivers surveyed were in support of a flexible licensing system which might, for example, restrict drivers to only using local roads or driving in daylight hours.
On this, Mr Greig added: "Flexible licences are already used in some countries, including the USA and Australia. In these places, following an official assessment, older drivers can continue behind the wheel, but in a restricted area, type of road, or time of day.
"IAM RoadSmart supports a flexible driving licence pilot project in the UK to test whether this approach would allow some older drivers to maintain their mobility and still reach local services. This would maintain their quality of life as well as reduce the cost to society of bringing services to them."
Mr Greig concluded: "The fact that over half of older drivers are willing to undergo extra driving checks bodes well for the policy changes we advocate. These include an immediate review of driver licensing, offering mature drivers reviews on prescription and a joint education campaign to help drivers start to plan for their future mobility needs. With everyone moving in the same direction, we can drive down accidents on the road, making Britain's roads an even safer place to be."