Should elderly drivers be made to retake the test?

Transport Minister Shane Ross said last month he is considering bringing in the change

Last month, Minister for Transport Shane Ross said he is open to new initiatives to improve people's driving - including retesting for elderly motorists.

The Independent Alliance TD said "people's driving does deteriorate [...] I think we should all probably submit ourselves to retesting and I am going to look at that."

Similar legislation has been adopted abroad - in Japan, elderly drivers are being offered funeral discounts in exchange for their licence.

The move was prompted by a surge in road fatalities in the country - particularly one case in which an 87-year-old man killed a six year-old boy on this way to school, saying he "didn't remember where he had been."

According to the Japan Times, drivers aged 75 or above were responsible for 13 per cent of fatal road accidents that occurred in Aicihi - where the discount is offered - in 2016.

In 2013, drivers over the age of 60 made up an estimated 534,000 of total road users.

But is there a realistic danger offered by elderly motorists in Ireland? 

"Driving is a dangerous activity"

Journalist Aaron McKenna told Newstalk Breakfast that Road Safety Authority (RSA) statistics indicate elderly motorists were responsible for a quarter of all driver deaths last year. 

"What happens is you get safer in your 30s, you stay safe in your 40s and 50s but it starts to trip up again when you hit 60, 70 or 80," he said in reference to an international survey by road safety advocacy group AAA.

McKenna pointed to reduced mobility and reflexes in the elderly as key reasons for the introduction of standardised testing.

"It's common sense  - we get slower. It doesn't stop us from having a full and productive life. But driving is a dangerous activity - it killed almost 200 people last year. 

"We have done a lot to address that among younger drivers, but we haven't thought so much about older drivers."

"Older drivers are safer drivers"

Head of Advocacy and Communications with Age Action Justin Moran countered that while the argument is reasonable, research indicates that it's not necessarily true.

"[Older drivers] are less likely to speed, they are less likely to take drink and drugs, they are likely to drive in poor weather conditions," he said. "The British Institute of Advances Motorists looked at this and discovered that older drivers are less likely to be involved in accidents."

Moran also pointed to issues surrounding social isolation due to elderly drivers coming off the road early. 

You can listen to the full piece below.