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New IAM Report: The ageing process and driver safety

Publication date: 30 November 2012

IAM presented yesterday at their annual lunch in London their new report on safety for older drivers. There are currently almost 4 million drivers over 70, this is set to increase by 49 per cent by 2032 creating a road safety debate. Some claim that older drivers can no longer be safe to drive after a certain age.

However, accident statistics show that older drivers tend to be much safer than younger ones, although they are over-represented in certain types of crashes.

With financial support from the FIA Road Safety Grant the IAM commissioned the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) to look at how the ageing process affects driver behaviour. They carried out a range of tests and found that drivers over 75 react just as quickly as other ages when a vehicle emerges from a side road or if the car in front brakes suddenly on a motorway.

In cases where older drivers had slower reaction times, they used their experience on the road to compensate by driving more slowly and maintaining a bigger distance behind the car in front.

However, there were times when older drivers failed to look as often as the younger age groups. They were also more likely to stop short at junctions.

The IAM believes it is important these findings are used in on-road and online assessments to ensure that older drivers understand the risks they face and what they can do to improve their driving in key areas and would also like to see:

  • A government action plan for older drivers
  • More car manufacturers considering older drivers in vehicle design
  • Better information for older drivers and their families
  • Online self-assessment tools for older drivers
  • Wider availability of voluntary on-road driving assessments
  • Better partnership working at a local level
  • Greater publicity to encourage health professionals to discuss driving

Download the IAM summary


Picture: From left: IAM Chairman Alistair Cheyne, IAM President Nigel Mansell, FIA Region I Director General Jacob Bangsgaard, IAM Chief Executive Simon Best

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