As UK society ages, ‘nudging’ older people to self-regulate the way they drive may improve road safety and improve their wellbeing

There is a fairly significant, albeit unintentional, ‘nudge’ at the heart of the regulatory system on driving in later life. At the age of 70, and every three years thereafter, older people are obligated to self-certify their fitness to drive on the basis of a medical questionnaire. Answers are not necessarily verified – but the questions themselves may encourage people to consider their driving habits as they get older.

The measure epitomises the UK’s liberal regulatory system, but it may in fact be discriminatory. There is no evidence that older drivers, up to the age of around 80, are less safe than other age groups; indeed, young people tend to be more dangerous behind the wheel. Older people are more likely to suffer from health conditions that affect driving but age per se does not cause deterioration in driving skills. It should also be pointed out that most older people have ceased driving by 80. This is suggestive of the real centre-piece of the older driver regulatory system: self-regulation. There is significant evidence that older people restrict or reduce their driving as they get older.

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Image: Arentas