Over 70s face driving curfews, trackers and distance limits

Proposals could see older drivers with medical issues keep their licences if they agree to monitoring and restrictions

old couple putting on seatbelts

Drivers over the age of 70 with certain medical conditions could be subject to limits such as night-time curfews and restrictions on how far they could travel in return for keeping their licences.

The proposals were discussed by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and the charity Driving Mobility, and could see motorists with conditions such as dementia, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, and insulin-treated diabetes have trackers fitted to their cars, restricting both the times at which they were allowed to drive, and the distances away from home they could travel.

Under current rules, motorists must renew their licences with the DVLA when they hit 70, declaring if they have conditions and illnesses that affect their ability to drive. Those suffering from such conditions can see their licence renewals declined, losing their ability to drive.

Discussions between DVLA and Driving Mobility, however, suggest that instead of a total loss of their licences, older motorists could face certain restrictions, such as only being allowed to drive during daylight hours, and being limited to traveling within 20 or 30 miles of their homes.

The discussions, reported by the Sunday Times, could result in greater freedom for older drivers with certain medical conditions, whose cars could be fitted with telematics devices, similar to those younger drivers with ‘black box’ insurance policies have. 

In addition to night-time and distance restrictions, older drivers would, like black-box policyholders, have their braking, acceleration and cornering forces measured by the devices, with authorities being alerted if they exhibit worrying driving behaviour. Combined, the restrictions would amount to ‘graduated driving licences’, an idea usually associated with younger drivers.  

The Sunday Times reports that Edward Trewhella, chief executive of Driving Mobility, said: “A lot of older drivers stick within their own locality — they go to the shop, the doctor’s surgery, go and see a granddaughter down the road, probably on minor roads with which they are familiar.” Trewhella said the proposals “would regularise that, and make it legal for them to do so as long as they didn’t take a trip outside of an area or outside of a time restriction. That would mean that they were driving safely within their familiar environment.”

The proportion of over 70s with driving licences has doubled over the last 25 years. Driving provides a social and cultural lifeline for many people in this age group, particularly those living in rural areas, or who have conditions that make accessing public transport difficult. There are concerns, however, that while fatalities for most age groups have remained stable in recent years, the over 70s have witnessed a steep climb in this regard.  

Figures from some police forces, meanwhile, indicate as many as 30 per cent of over 70s with ‘notifiable’ medical conditions fail to inform the DVLA of them, as they are required to by law. Department for Transport Data analysed by the Sunday Times shows over 70s are more likely to be involved in collisions where the cause is listed as “driver failed to look properly”, “driver failed to judge other person’s path or speed”, “poor turn or manoeuvre”, and “driver illness or disability, mental or physical”.

Edmund King, president of the AA, said authorities should tread “very, very carefully before introducing restrictions” as the loss of a driving licence can result in severe loneliness among older people, a privation that has been shown to be as damaging to health as smoking. King added that doctors and other medical professions should ensure they report notifiable medical conditions.

The Department for Transport has subsequently dismissed the idea of restrictions on over 70s with certain medical conditions, saying: “It is the law that all drivers must tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency about any medical conditions which might affect their driving. There are no plans to introduce graduate driving licenses for drivers aged 70 or over.”

Find out the safest cars on sale here...

Most Popular

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time
Vauxhall Astra teaser 1
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time

The new Vauxhall Astra will get electrified powertrains and a more premium image
8 Jun 2021
‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'
Gearknob
Opinion

‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'

Want to drive a manual car? You need to take your test in a manual car. So what happens once all driving-school cars are automatic EVs?
8 Jun 2021
New Vauxhall Astra prototype review
Vauxhall Astra prototype - front
Vauxhall Astra

New Vauxhall Astra prototype review

A new Vauxhall Astra is on the way and we've driven a prototype ahead of its official arrival
14 Jun 2021
'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'
Toyota Mirai opinion
Opinion

'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'

Mike Rutherford says hydrogen-powered cars could still be a frequent sight on UK roads
13 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
New Porsche Macan facelift prototype review
Porsche Macan prototype - front
Porsche Macan

New Porsche Macan facelift prototype review

We get behind the wheel of a prototype version of the facelifted Porsche Macan SUV
13 Jun 2021
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300
Car group tests

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300

The capable Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport goes up against its new Cupra Leon 300 sibling in this hot hatch battle
12 Jun 2021
'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'
Car manufacturing
Opinion

'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'

Steve Fowler points out the fresh issues facing global car manufacturing
9 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai production begins in Sunderland
Nissan Qashqai - front static
News

New Nissan Qashqai production begins in Sunderland

Nissan will offer every school child in the North East of England a place on the Nissan Skills Foundation course to mark 35 years of manufacturing in …
14 Jun 2021
Illegal car modification hotspots revealed
Volkswagen Polo exhaust
News

Illegal car modification hotspots revealed

Gloucestershire has the highest proportion of illegal car modifications, with altered number plates the most common breach
14 Jun 2021
New 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid launched with 1,006bhp
Tesla Model S facelift - front
Tesla Model S

New 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid launched with 1,006bhp

Range-topping version of the Tesla Model S officially unveiled, with a sprint time of 0-60mph in less than two seconds
10 Jun 2021
New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle
Volkswagen T7 Multivan - front
Volkswagen Caravelle

New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle

The Volkswagen T7 Multivan MPV switches to the MQB platform and adds plug-in hybrid technology
10 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
New hydrogen-powered Land Rover Defender prototype in development
Land Rover Defender
Land Rover Defender

New hydrogen-powered Land Rover Defender prototype in development

The Land Rover Defender FCEV prototype will be assessed for off-road and long-range zero-emission motoring
14 Jun 2021