Neil Greig, director of policy and research for IAM RoadSmart, said it was “too broad-brushed” to say drivers aged 70 and above were “dangerous” with the petition now on course to be debated in Parliament.
He admitted the UK was not prepared for an influx of older drivers but said retesting pensioners was not the answer.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think, unfortunately, it’s a bit too broad-brushed to say that all 70-year-olds are actually dangerous if you look at actual accident statistics – 70-year-olds are just as safe drivers as 50, 60-year-old middle-aged drivers.”
Mr Greig agreed that they were “probably a lot safer” than 17-year-olds behind the wheel.
Neil greig said the UK was unprepared for growing numbers of elderly drivers
I think unfortunately, it’s a bit too broad-brushed to say that all 70-year-olds are actually dangerous
He said: “If you’re going to retest anybody based on their road safety record it would be new drivers in the first few years after passing their tests.”
The road safety expert said there was going to be three times more drivers aged over 70 in the next 10 years.
He said: “Over time, people do get slower, their reactions do dim – we aren’t really prepared at the moment.
“There’s going to be a huge increase in the amount of older drivers on our roads. There’s going to be three times more drivers over the age of 70 in the next 10 years.
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“We’ve just passed a million drivers over the age of 80 a year or two ago and we’re kind of unprepared for that.
“There’s very little information out there, there’s very little voluntary assessment available and we think we need to be having this conversation to try and prepare ourselves for a lot more older drivers in the future.”
Under the current system, 70-year-olds are sent a self-assessment form to determine whether they are fit to drive. They then have to complete a self-assessment every three years afterwards.
But Ben Brooks-Dutton, who launched the petition, said the system was not sufficient after his wife was killed by an 85-year-old driver.
He said: “I think there needs to be some sort of test to check that we’re well enough to drive and at the moment there’s a self-assessment system that doesn’t do that.
“No one wants to take someone’s life, no one wants that hanging over them for the rest of their life but a car is a powerful weapon.”