Who's more dangerous? Old drivers or young 'uns?

Published: 15 January 2009

There’s an episode of the brilliant ’90s US sitcom, Seinfeld, where the show’s titular hero comes up with an ingenious suggestion to prevent the roads becoming clogged up with elderly motorists.

Jerry proselytises that rather than a complicated driving exam, the best way to gauge an OAP’s ability behind the wheel is a simple test whereby the candidate has to be able to drive at a speed in direct correlation to their age. So, if you’re 85, you’ve gotta be able to drive at 85mph.

Okay, it’s Seinfeld, so his raison d’être is to take the mickey, but has he got a point? What would he make of the recent news that a 15-year-old, boasting the spectacularly appropriate and cartoonish name of Jevon Race, has just passed a mock driving test after being tutored at Mercedes-Benz World in Weybridge?

We’ve spent our driving lives thinking that it’s the under-25s who are the biggest contributor to road accidents, but perhaps it’s time to shift the emphasis to the over-75s.

It’s a sector of the population that’s set to explode in the coming years. There were 4.7m over-75s in the UK in 2006. The Office For National Statistics predicts that will creak up (quite literally) to 8.2m in 2031. That’s an increase of nearly 75%. Let’s panic!

Just before Christmas, former TV newsreader Anna Ford, who has just joined the Institute of Advanced Motorists, called for regular driving tests for the over-70s. Ford, who is 65, says she has been a lifelong learner and so I think that everyone else should be, too.

To half-inch that time-honoured football cliché, if young Master Race (heck, that’s unfortunate!) is good enough, surely he’s old enough? Wouldn’t you rather let a razor-sharp, button-bright youngster loose on our roads than a wizened old ’un, blithely leaving a trail of destruction and frustration in the wake of their Austin Metro.

Hey, they always drive bloomin’ Metros, don’t they?

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By Stephen Worthy