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Young and older drivers compared

A young versus an older driverYoung drivers and their older counterparts – who are better, or rather safer, on our roads?

There are now more than 1 million drivers aged 80 or older on our roads, new statistics show.

The figures were obtained by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) following a freedom of information request to the DVLA.

A majority of Brits - 85 per cent - think regular checks should be made to ensure elderly motorists are fit to remain behind the wheel.

But the IAM said that evidence suggested drivers in their eighties were not a danger to other road users.

Bigger injury risk

Those over the age of 80 were however more likely to suffer serious injury in road collisions due to their frailty, the IAM added.

But the organisation’s chief executive Simon Best said there were no grounds for creating more obstacles to driving for this age group.

“Older people need their cars which give them better mobility and access to more activities and services,” he said.

Motorists over 100

“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 figures also found that there are now almost 66,000 drivers aged 90 or older in the UK, including 122 motorists who have passed the age of 100.

Lower injury rates

The IAM also analysed the rates of death and serious injury in road accidents according to age group.

In 2010 – the most recent year for which statistics are available – the average rate of drivers killed or seriously injured (KSI) on the roads across all age groups was 0.18 for every 1,000 licence holders.

The highest risk group was drivers aged between 17 and 19 with a KSI rate of 0.98 per 1,000.

Motorists aged between 20 and 24 had a rate of 0.45 per thousand, while the KSI rate for the over 80s was 0.33 per thousand.

The safest age group was drivers in their sixties, who had a typical KSI rate of 0.09 per 1,000 licence holders.

Insurance costs by age

It is no surprise that these differences are reflected very clearly in car insurance premiums paid by drivers in different age groups.

The risk of a customer being involved in a collision is one of the most important factors considered by insurers when they come to set prices.

And because there are such clear differences in accident rates between age groups, age – as well as gender – has a huge bearing on the cost of cover.

The national average cost of a comprehensive policy rose by just under 5 per cent last year to reach £844, according to the latest car insurance price index.

Young drivers, higher premiums

But for young drivers aged between 17 and 20, the average policy costs more than three times as much at £2,590.

Those between 21 and 25 now pay a typical £1,474 a year. But over-50s car insurance is much less costly.

For motorists aged 71 or above, the average annual cost of car insurance is £451 - the cheapest rate of any age group.

Drivers aged between 66 and 70 also pay £451 a year, while those aged 61 to 65 pay slightly more at £460 a year.

You can check the cost of car insurance where you live with our interactive car insurance map.


But perhaps the rise of telematics insurance, where "black box" devices which monitor driver behaviour are fitted to cars and premiums are adjusted accordingly is the future for cheaper car insurance.

Read more about telematics here.

What do you think?

Young drivers and their older counterparts – who do you think is better, or rather safer, on our roads?

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Chris Torney

Chris Torney

Chris is the former personal finance editor at the Daily Express. He's been a journalist for more than 10 years and contributes to a wide range of finance and business titles.Read more from Chris