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Should Elderly People Still Be Allowed To Get Behind The Wheel?

Should Elderly People Still Be Allowed To Get Behind The Wheel?

As you've probably heard, Prince Philip crashed his Land Rover into another car last week, causing one woman to sustain a broken wrist, and flipped his car across the road near his Sandringham home.

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Much of the focus since then hasn't been on whether the 97-year-old was OK (he was), or whether everyone else - including a young child - was OK (largely, they were), but on whether a man of his age should be allowed to drive at all.

Last year, there were a record number of drivers - around 5.3 million - who were older than 70.

So, with that in mind, should there be rules that govern whether elderly people should be allowed to drive?

Prince Philip is his car. Credit: PA
Prince Philip is his car. Credit: PA

Well, as it stands there only a few rules in place for those over the age of 70 who continue to drive. First off, they've got to review whether they are actually safe to continue driving. Obviously, eyesight is the big one. It can deteriorate with age.

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Anything that could slow down reflexes, that's the kind of thing that elderly folk have got to tell the DVLA about.

Contrary to what you might think, that doesn't involve doing a new driving test. It means that you have to fill in a form and send it off. You can do that for free if they register up to 90 days before you hit the big 7-0.

After that, you've got to renew your licence every three years.

The Queen has a chat with the Duke of Edinburgh through his car window. Credit: PA
The Queen has a chat with the Duke of Edinburgh through his car window. Credit: PA

However, there is no upper limit in terms of what age you can drive at. This sort of stuff isn't limited to the elderly, after all. If anyone has a medical condition that they don't 'fess up about, they can be fined up to £1,000 if their insurer and the DVLA haven't been informed.

While we're at it, several recent studies have shown that the bulk of accidents are actually nothing to do with elderly people. A report by the Department for Transport in 2016 showed that 15.36 percent of accidents that year involved people aged under 24.

The over-70s contributed only 5.95 percent of that total.

There's more. In 2016 the University of Swansea discovered that over-70s were involved in three to four times less accidents than men aged between 17 and 21.

But hey, no-one is talking about raising the legal driving age to 25, are they? That would be silly.

Debris on the road following Prince Philip's recent crash. Credit: PA
Debris on the road following Prince Philip's recent crash. Credit: PA

However, a spokesperson from the AA recently admitted that older drivers driving slowly and hogging the middle lane could have been partially responsible for an increase in casualties. In 2017, there was a 31 percent increase in crashes caused by slow driving.

AA spokesperson, Luke Bosdet, said: "The vast majority of elderly drivers drive locally and stick to set routes. But then when they go on longer journeys, so to see a relative, if they are driving slowly on the motorways then that becomes a problem"

That being said, some of the responsibility for those accidents has to rest with the impatient drivers behind slower motorist taking unsafe and unnecessary risks.

Bosdet added: "The fact of the matter is that some people are so keen to get ahead they will take risks"

No matter what age you are, just drive safely out there, folks.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: News, uk news, Cars

Tom Wood

Tom Wood is a freelance journalist and LADbible contributor. He graduated from University of London with a BA in Philosophy before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. He has previously written for the M.E.N Group as well as working for several top professional sports clubs. Contact him on [email protected]

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