Older drivers and behavioural change

My report for ILC-UK on the options for reforming the regulation of older drivers.

In an ageing society, we can expect far more older drivers on our roads. This is not a bad thing, given that older drivers tend to be as safe as other age groups, up to around the age of 80 – by which time the majority of people have ceased driving. Furthermore, driving is vital to the mobility, independence and ultimately quality of life of many older people. Nevertheless, we know that driving is affected by age-related decline. This policy brief utilises insights from behavioural economics and psychology to suggest various ‘nudges’ that government could introduce to improve the regulatory system around driving in later life.

In Autumn 2011, ILC-UK undertook a consultation exercise, asking government officials and representatives from various stakeholder groups to comment on our draft proposals. ILC-UK wishes to thank all who responded for their generous contributions.

In considering the policy implications of our research on older drivers in more detail, the policy brief recommends:

  1. DVLA should introduce self-selected licence restrictions. In consultation with their GP and relevant authorities, older drivers should be able to voluntarily restrict their driving activity, thereby nudging older people towards self-regulation.
  2. DVLA should mandate older drivers to declare, at the point of self-declaration, that they have discussed their driving capability and habits with a medical professional. This measure would nudge drivers towards seeking advice as they get older – as well as nudging GPs to maintain their knowledge of driving in later life.
  3. The government should introduce a 10 per cent discount on Vehicle Excise Duty for older drivers that can demonstrate self-regulation. This would incentivise older drivers to self-regulate, and ideally would be used in conjunction with self-selected licences to incentivise take-up.
  4. The Department for Transport should develop and distribute a self-assessment toolkit so that older drivers can monitor and evaluate their own driving capabilities. The toolkit would also nudge individuals towards initiating discussions with their families and GPs at an earlier stage.

Click here to access the full report.

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