Oldest licence holder is 108
There are now 1.65 million holders of full driving licences in Great Britain aged 80 or over.
Data from the DVLA shows that this age group now makes up 4% – or about 1 in every 25 – of all full licence holders in the country.
According to the same data there are now 5.97 million full licence holders aged 70 or over, including 510 aged 100 or over.
The oldest holder of a full licence is 108.
Drivers do not have to have mandatory tests or health checks after obtaining their licence no matter how old they become, although they are required to inform the DVLA if they are no longer fit to drive.
However, at age 70 all drivers must self-certify their fitness to drive, something they need to do every three years thereafter.
The RAC Foundation believes there is now a strong case for making eye tests compulsory at regular intervals, not just for older drivers but for everyone on the road.
Data from the Department for Transport (DfT) shows that older drivers involved in serious crashes are more likely to have failed to look properly than younger motorists.
The error contributed to 30% of incidents in which at least one person was killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads between 2016 and 2021 involving drivers aged over 70.
That is compared with 22% for younger drivers.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:
“Active motorists aged over 80 tend to be very aware of their abilities and self-regulate their driving avoiding, for example, driving at night or in the rush hour.
“The challenge is that as we age our bodies become more frail, so older people caught up in collisions tend to suffer worse injuries – something car designers should have at the front of their mind.
“One thing that would allow all drivers – not just those at an arbitrary old age – to help judge their fitness to drive would be compulsory eye tests when licences are renewed.
“Many families can and do play their part by having that difficult discussion with an elderly loved one who might need to vacate the driver’s seat.
“Hanging up the keys is a huge decision for anyone who relies on the independence driving brings but it is something that will face all of us lucky to live to a ripe old age.”
The RAC Foundation is a member of the older driver task force which has looked at the issues surrounding older drivers and how to keep them safe on the roads.
Earlier this month, a coroner called for mandatory checks on older drivers to be considered after a woman using a pedestrian crossing was struck and killed by a car driven by a 95-year-old man who had passed a red light.
Kathleen Fancourt, 89, was using a mobility scooter when the incident happened in Chichester, West Sussex, in September 2021.
West Sussex senior coroner Penelope Schofield sent a report to Transport Secretary Mark Harper and DVLA chief executive Julie Lennard which stated:
“In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths could occur unless action is taken… at present there is no upper legal limit for drivers.”
She added: “There is a concern that if no checks are carried out a driver may be oblivious to their enduring medical condition.”
Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation
[email protected] | 07711 776448 | 020 7747 3445
Notes to editors:
The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research organisation that explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and their users.
The Foundation publishes independent and authoritative research with which it promotes informed debate and advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist. All the Foundation’s work is available at: www.racfoundation.org