British Want Elderly Off Roads

Perhaps you dream of a pleasant retirement in a small cottage outside London. How lovely it could be -- tea, scones and bangers for breakfast with a paisley shawl over your shoulders and nights spent in conversation with colorful locals at an English pub.  Well, if you'd like to drive during your Golden Years in the United Kingdom, feggediboutit. A shockingly high percentage of drivers polled by British online insurance broker Motor Insurance have a novel solution for their traffic problems: they want to ban elderly drivers from the roads altogether.

In a shocking display of blatant and unfounded ageism, almost half of drivers polled (49 percent) said that banning elderly motorists from driving during peak hours would ease congestion on Britain's roads. Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of the 300 drivers polled believe that elderly drivers cannot cope with modern-day road conditions and nearly as many believe (49 percent) that their slow and erratic driving causes accidents. Despite these findings, the insurance brokerage firm is reluctant to push for a ban on elderly driving altogether.

"The impact of congestion on the UK economy in terms of lost time, fuel costs and general stress runs to billions, yet we continue to drive our cars more and drive further than the rest of Europe," Paul Cosh, managing director of Motor Insurance, said. "However, I do not think that picking on this nation's most careful and experienced drivers is really the answer. To be honest, the views shown by this poll are quite shocking and simply do not stand up against the facts." 

After an analysis of United Kingdom safety statistics, Cosh is solidly in the corner of older drivers.  He noted that increased age brings its challenges, but healthy older drivers typically try to compensate for deficiencies. If anything, he asserts, they also drive more carefully and avoiding risk-taking in general.

"To suggest that older drivers are a danger on the roads is a statistically unfounded stereotype and if anyone wants to debate the safety record of an 80 year-old compared with the average 20 year-old, my door is always open," Cosh said.

Instead of kicking older drivers off the roads, Cosh suggests adopting measures that ensure travelers enjoy free-flowing traffic, efficient public transport, as well as providing adequate space for walkers and cyclists. The wider aim is to make life, particularly in urban areas, less stressful, healthier and more enjoyable for everyone of all ages, he said.

An expert on older persons and aging was appalled by the results of the poll.

"These shocking findings highlight blatant discrimination towards older drivers," David Sinclair, senior policy manager at Help the Aged, said. "The evidence of competence in relation to age doesn't back up the assertions made. Older drivers are not inevitably either bad or good drivers and it is ability and capability, not a person's age that should be used to assess suitability to drive safely."

We think those who called for a ban on elderly drivers should be old enough to know better.  If it weren't for the elderly who would be in restaurants at five pm?

Driving Today Contributing Editor Tom Ripley is not quite elderly, but he's getting there.  He reports on automobiles and the human condition from his home in Villeperce, France.