Sharp rise in older drivers banned for medical reasons

The number of older drivers who have been banned from driving on medical grounds has increased by almost 150% in a decade.

DVLA figures provided to The Times following a Freedom of Information request reveal that almost 22,500 over-70s had their licences revoked last year for failing to meet medical standards.

That's 142% higher than the number rescinded on medical grounds in 2010, prompting calls for the licensing regulations to be changed, the newspaper said.

Currently, the UK has no legal age at which you must stop driving, and no age-related requirement to resit the driving test.

Drivers must renew their licence at age 70, and every three years after that. To renew their licence, drivers only need to confirm that their eyesight meets current standards, and they do not have any medical conditions that may affect their driving.

All drivers, whatever their age, are legally required to notify the DVLA if they develop certain medical conditions, including diabetes, heart conditions, epilepsy, strokes, glaucoma and sleep apnoea.

A spokesperson for road safety charity Brake told The Times that regulation around drivers' fitness to drive should be "more rigorously enforced", for example with compulsory eyesight tests and checks of medical records before the DVLA confirms that older motorists may continue to drive.

However, Caroline Abrahams, charity director for Age UK, pointed out that older drivers are, on average, less likely to be involved in accidents than younger drivers.

DVLA records show that 5.3 million people over the age of 70 currently hold a driving licence in the UK -- around two thirds of this population, compared with just 39% in the mid-1990s.

The Department for Transport said that the issue of older drivers would be addressed in a "refreshed road safety statement" due to be published later this year.

Make sure you are covered whatever your age by visiting our car insurance page to get a quote.