Age Concern

VW puts an age limit of 80 on journalists. (Above) The delightful Scirocco
If Sir Jackie Stewart was a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers he would be ineligible to drive press cars. With the honourable exception of Jaguar, according to a list “kindly” supplied by the SMMT published in the current Guild Update he is too old, at 70, to be trusted with cars from a score of press fleets. The problem, apparently, is insurance.
18 January 2010
Drivers over 70 are no more likely to cause crashes than any other driver, and are considerably safer than younger drivers, according to a report published today by the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists).
Neil Greig, IAM Director of Policy and Research said: “The report contradicts the common assumption that older drivers are a danger on the roads. Just eight per cent of drivers are over 70 and they are involved in around four per cent of injury crashes; but of the 15 per cent of drivers who are in their teens and 20s, 34 per cent are involved in injury crashes.”
Older people rely heavily on their cars, and the ability to drive gives many older people better mobility and access to more activities. Men in their seventies make more trips as car drivers than men in their late teens and 20s.
Mr Greig added: “The IAM recommends that, rather than seeking to prevent older people from driving, we need to make them aware of the risks they face, and offer them driving assessments to help them cope with these risks.”

The RAC Foundation agrees. Its director Professor Sir Stephen Glaister said: Despite the myths, older drivers are no less safe.” Other motoring organisations reach similar conclusions. Andrew Howard, head of road safety at the AA: “The 70-year-old of the mid-1970s is very different to the 70-year-old today who is much fitter.” The AA published data showing a disproportionate number of young drivers have accidents.

So why do the motor industry insurers take the opposite view? Is the list a smokescreen enabling press offices to refuse cars to old, perhaps retired Guild members, to whom they don’t want to lend cars? Or do insurance company records for Guild members show they are more dangerous than other drivers?