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After a slow but steady decline in Road Traffic Accidents (RTAs) since 2000, they are now back on the rise.

The annual report from the Department for Transport showed that serious injuries had increased 5% to 22,807 in 2014. It also showed that there were almost 195,000 casualties of all severities, including 146,322 personal injury RTAs that were reported to the police.

So, why the increase now?

Figures show that traffic volume rose by 2.4% between 2013 and 2014 – the highest increase in a decade. With the population growing all the time and people living for longer, you’d only expect this volume number to rise. There’s also an increasing trend for drivers to keep hold of their licences for longer as they head into their old age.

In 1975, only 15% of the over 70s drove. In March 2015, there were 4.3 million licence holders over the age of 70 and more than a million over 80, equating to a number much higher than 15% – the statistics in 2010 told us that 60% of over 70s were still on the road. The AA think by 2030 around 90% of the over 70s could be behind the wheel.

There has been a debate raging for a while – are older drivers safe to drive?

The question opens up a whole host of other reverberating questions, for example: should there be a legal age at which drivers should stop driving? Should members of a certain age be required to take a retest? Is the self-certification of fitness adequate?

In a recent article in The Telegraph, Angela Epstein discusses older drivers retaking their driving test or have their licence revoked in light of the 89 year old Queen driving over the grass through Windsor Great Park on her way to church.

According to the road traffic law, when you pass your driving test you are believed to be fit and competent to drive until you are 70, unless a Court says otherwise. After the age of 70 all you have to do is declare that you are fit to drive every three years. Potentially, you could be driving well into your 100s if you think you’re capable.

Suffice to say, as we get older certain traits start to deteriorate, such as eye sight, reaction time, health and even confidence. This is just natural. Epstein calls for a compulsory retest to ensure that safety for both the driver and other road users is at the forefront of all licence decisions.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) have recently acquired new powers to revoke licences quicker. Since 2013, police forces have applied 631 times to have a licence revoked based on a failed eye sight test with the driver being unable to read number plates. The DVLA went ahead and recalled 609 of the drivers’ licences.

More congested roads combined with a higher percentage of older road users is likely to mean more problems. If driving retests and eye sight tests are not introduced at a certain age, we may see a possible increase in RTAs.

If you have been involved in a RTA and need legal advice, call our expert team in Personal Injury at Gorvins who specialise in RTAs. Call us on 0343 507 5151 (landline number) or contact us online and we will give you a call.