The number of drivers over the age of 80 has now topped one million according to information obtained by the IAM following a freedom of information request to the DVLA at the end of January.

    DVLA figures show that there are now 1,012,399 drivers over 80. There are also 122 licence holders over the age of 100, including three 105 year olds, and one 106 year old woman.1

    The age gap between the youngest driving license holder and the oldest is 90 years.

    But contrary to common assumptions, drivers in their eighties are not dangerous. The figures show that they are in fact much safer than their more youthful counterparts.

    The rate of deaths and serious injuries in crashes among drivers over 80 is three times less than the rate for those aged 17-19.  In 2010 almost one young driver aged 17-19 was killed or seriously injured per thousand licence holders.

    The rate of deaths and serious injuries in crashes among car drivers aged 20 to 24 is 36.4 per cent more than the rate for drivers aged 80 or over.2

    However, drivers over the age of 80 are more likely to suffer serious injuries in a car crash due to their frailty.

    IAM chief executive Simon Best said:  “Older people need their cars which give them better mobility and access to more activities and services. Those who wish to continue driving beyond the age of 70 should only be prevented from doing so if there are compelling reasons. Rather than seeking to prevent older people from driving, we should make them more aware of the risks they face, and offer them driving assessments to help them eliminate bad habits. Driving helps older people play a full and active part in society.”

    The number of older drivers will continue to rise as the Office of National Statistics predicts that there will be 8.7million people over the age of 75 by 2033. This will represent a increase of 81.1 per cent of over 75 year-olds since 2008 – some 4.8 million people.

    • DVLA figures based on a freedom of information request showing licensing statistics by age and gender – January 2012.

    Older drivers licensing figures

    Women Men Total
    Over 60 4,469,829 5,867,347 10,337,176
    Over 70 1,458,438 2,310,261 3,768,699
    Over 80 350,852 661,547 1,012,399
    Over 90 19,517 46,379 65,896
    Over 100 35 87 122
    • Table: Rate of car drivers Killed and Seriously Injured (KSI) in road accidents per thousand licence holders (2010)
    Car drivers KSI numbers License holders Rate of KSIs per thousand license holder
    Young 17-19 671 682,183 0.98
    20 to 24 999 2,244,860 0.45
    25 to 29 694 2,709,049 0.26
    30 to 39 1,084 6,600,435 0.16
    40 to 59 1,717 15,103,240 0.11
    60 to 69 556 5,941,555 0.09
    70 to 79 386 2,692,203 0.14
    80 and over 320 957,960 0.33
    All age groups 6,506 36,932,577 0.18

    Source: Calculated by the IAM from Department for Transport ‘Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: 2010’ Table number RAS30011 and DVLA Licensing statistics by age 2010.

    • The IAM is the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, dedicated to improving standards and safety in driving, motorcycling and cycling. The commercial division of the IAM operates through its occupational driver training company IAM Drive & Survive. The IAM has more than 200 local volunteer groups and over 100,000 members in the UK and Ireland. It is best known for the advanced driving test and the advanced driving, motorcycling and cycling courses. Its policy and research division offers advice and expertise on road safety.