We have spoken before about older drivers, and in particular how the DGT may change the rules in the future, and although no definitive plans have been set out yet, it is looking inevitable that things will change in the not-too-distant future, in particular for drivers over 65.

DGT: high death rate

It is worth emphasising that 30% of those killed in traffic incidents in the European Union are over 65 years of age. In Spain, in 2021, 28% of those killed in collisions were drivers with these characteristics. “These figures are going to worsen, if we do nothing, due to the aging of the population,” said María José Aparicio, deputy director of Education and Road Training of the DGT.

In addition, she argued that: “older people must be protected, but always promoting their mobility and safety.”

Loss of faculties

Likewise, the general secretary of the Spanish Association of Psychotechnical Medical Centres (ASECEMP), Bonifacio Martín, has said that “age is a factor that notably influences the loss of faculties. The older, the more denials and restrictive conditions” and has indicated that “the view is the most relevant organ in providing information on driving and it is also the one that provides the greatest number of denials and restrictive conditions”.

What does the DGT say about it?

Eventually, the DGT establishes that renewals up to the age of 65 should be carried out every ten years. Then, this period is reduced to five years for those drivers older than the established age and, it becomes two years when they are over 70. All these procedures entail a series of tests of visual aptitude, reflexes, hearing ability, among others.

Are changes coming?

On the other hand, the entity that regulates traffic has been warning for some time that these deadlines are excessive for the most veteran drivers. Although it has regained strength in recent weeks, the truth is that the statements collected by some media outlets point to words that María José Aparicio, deputy director of the DGT, made several months ago.

Also, at the time, Pere Navarro, head of the DGT, targeted nonagenarians and centenarians in a speech in the Congress of Deputies. Therefore, it was dropped that this community could shorten the terms when renewing the driving licence, which is currently five years. It is important to clarify that today there are more than 3 million drivers who are over 70.

With restrictions

Indeed, even when they approve the renewal of the permit to circulate, 81% of those over 65 years of age receive some type of restriction. Similarly, there are cases where the driver is prohibited from circulating beyond a certain number of kilometres from their home, the hours, speed or even the roads on which they can drive are restricted.

International measures

Likewise, these special provisions for driving licences for the elderly are not only a Spanish case. For example, in the United Kingdom the licence is automatically withdrawn from those over 70 years of age, unless you renew it. On the other hand, in Denmark, Italy, Ireland or Portugal, the terms of renewal are also shorter than in Spain.

Tips for older drivers

Stay physically active. In other words, staying physically active improves strength and flexibility. In turn, physical activity can increase driver safety by making it easier to turn the wheel, look over your shoulder to change lanes, and make other movements while driving and parking. Therefore, look for ways to incorporate some type of training into your daily routine.

Regular vision and hearing tests

In short, vision and hearing tend to deteriorate with age. Thus, hearing loss can be a concern for older drivers because it limits the ability to hear an approaching train or emergency vehicle. Common age-related vision problems, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration, can also make it difficult to see clearly or drive at night.

Control medications

In conclusion, many medications—including tranquilizers, pain relievers, and cold remedies—can affect driver safety, even when you feel fine. Therefore, read the labels of your antidotes to know what to expect from each one. It should be noted that you should not drive if you have taken drugs that cause drowsiness or dizziness.