Elderly drivers are among Lothian’s safest: DVLA figures

Margaret Shaw feels 'as alert as she always has'. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Margaret Shaw feels 'as alert as she always has'. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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THEY may be in their later years, spending more time using their bus passes than behind the wheel, but new figures have revealed that the Lothian’s oldest drivers are among the safest on Edinburgh’s roads.

According to the DVLA, in October this year, 13,267 driving licence holders over the age of 80 in Scotland had an EH postcode.

Older drivers are very law abiding, they rarely speed and don’t drink and drive – they are among the safest on Scotland’s roads.

Neil Greig

And of that number, only 428 had penalty points on their licences.

The figures were revealed as part of a freedom of information request submitted to the DVLA by the Evening News, asking how many people over the age of 80 – with an EH postcode – still hold a driving licence.

However, the DVLA insisted that despite “the presence of a valid driving entitlement” this “does not necessarily mean that those with entitlement to drive do so.”

It emerged that no drivers over the age of 80, with an EH postcode, have been disqualified from driving over the past year for speeding offences – and just two have been prohibited from getting behind the wheel due to drink-driving offences.

For medical reasons, 109 people over the age of 80 with an EH postcode had their licence revoked, and one pensioner had theirs retracted for not complying with the DVLA’s instructions.

According to the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), over the next 15 years the number of drivers over the age of 80 in Scotland will increase, due to the growing population.

Neil Greig, the director of policy and research at the IAM, said he was not surprised by the recent findings.

He said: “Older drivers are very law abiding, they rarely speed and don’t drink and drive – they are among the safest on Scotland’s roads.

“They are also very careful when they drive.

“They tend to avoid peak times, don’t drive on roads they are not familiar with and don’t drive at nighttime.

“Elderly drivers are often the subject of bad press – for example if an 80-year-old was to drive down the A1 the wrong way it would be front page news, but if it was someone younger it perhaps wouldn’t get as much coverage.”

When driving licence holders reach the age of 70, their driving licence should be renewed every three years, according to the DVLA.

This is done by completing a tick sheet, which highlights how fit one is to drive.

Mr Greig added: “I think the current system of how driving licences are renewed needs to be looked at – I think it should be closer linked with eye tests and so on.

“However, if compulsory tests were to be brought in, it could become too much hassle for the elderly to undertake them – and may result in many giving up driving before they need to.

“Giving up driving too early can lead to a number of problems including depression and isolation, because it can totally change someone’s life.

“It’s important this is avoided.”

courtney.cameron@jpress.co.uk