Drivers of all ages should have regular medical checks, says GEM
The UK’s focus on age-based self-certification should be replaced by regular medical examinations for drivers of all ages, according to GEM.
The road safety and breakdown cover specialist has supported comments made in a report issued last week by the European Transport Safety Council, which criticises current approaches to assessing driver medical fitness.
The ETSC report examines the current state of play in European countries regarding the assessment of medical fitness to drive, with reference to current EU rules. It shows that the starting point for many EU countries is still age-based assessment despite the fact that studies have concluded that specific medical conditions, substance abuse, mental disorders, epilepsy and diabetes are more important factors than age when it comes to medical fitness to drive. The EU is currently reviewing the Directive on driver licensing and a revised legal proposal is expected in 2022, but GEM is calling for an overhaul of the rules in the UK.
Chief executive Neil Worth commented: “This report confirms that mandatory age-based screening of older drivers is ineffective in preventing severe collisions.
“It is concerning that the only requirement in law for anyone aged over 70 is to declare every three years that they are fit to drive.
“We believe that an age-based self-certification system should be replaced by regular medical examinations for drivers of all ages, with checks on eyesight, hearing, vision and blood pressure.”
GEM added that without a “robust” medical fitness process, individual drivers should ensure they take responsibility for their own safety and fitness to drive, and said that family members should also be wise to the early signs of unsafe driving in senior relatives.
“We want as many people as possible to enjoy the freedom of the open road as drivers, but safety must be the priority,” said Worth.