It isn't older drivers we should fear - it's the young
Following news that the number of older motorists is rising, we argue that it is the younger generation we really need to worry about
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), that oft maligned organisation which urban legend would have you believe solely champions the steering wheel hand shuffle, is currently promoting the virtues of silver-haired drivers. But it’s no pensioner propaganda press release filling column inches.
Over-65s now account for a quarter of all road users, of whom over a million drivers are octogenarians. Furthermore, the IAM estimates that within five years over 82,000 motorists will have celebrated their 90th birthdays.
Statistics suggest that older drivers are among the safest on the road, something not expected to worsen as the population ages. The menace causing carnage on Britain’s roads remains the under-25s.
Young drivers twice as likely to have an accident as their grandparents
The exuberance of youth and those first forays into independent driving are a heady and dangerous mix. Not only are young drivers more than twice as likely to have an accident than their grandparents, it’s five times more probable they’ll be seriously injured as a result. Driving freshers have yet to learn it’s not speed that kills, but the poor application of it.
Younger drivers statistically take more risks behind the wheel: last year RAC research discovered 23% of under-25s took to the wheel suspecting they were over the limit, compared with 16% of all other drivers. More shockingly, young drivers pay the ultimate price more than other age groups too, representing 40% of all road deaths despite holding less than 15% of the UK’s driving licences.
Consequently, premiums for young drivers are now firmly entrenched in four figures, meaning more choose to simply not pay for insurance. Crash with an under-25 and both your body and bank balance will hurt badly.
Spot a lukewarm hatchback racing away from the lights, with a body more pumped than Jodie Marsh’s and an exhaust the size of the Mersey Tunnel and you know it’s not a considerate, older driver at the wheel but a yoof auditioning for a part in a Mad Max remake.
If the NHS did prescription windscreens she’d have one
Old folks aren’t immune from bad driving: mental images are conjured up of frail Doris pootling along in her hearing aid beige Metro, leaning over the steering wheel and gripping it for dear life. You can guarantee if the NHS did prescription windscreens she’d have one.
While we’ve all seen a Doris where we live, they’re the exception rather than the rule. With age comes wisdom and multiple decades behind the wheel bring experience and maturity. Rather than performing burnouts and handbrake turns in McDonalds car parks, younger drivers would be much better served riding shotgun with their grandparents, learning how to really drive.
Keith Jones is a freelance motoring writer, author and researcher. Follow him on Twitter @keithwrjones .
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- Queue jumping
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