Public support for regular mandatory driver re-testing shot up in the days following the Duke of Edinburgh’s recent car crash, new research shows.
Drivers themselves are backing a change in the law, which would force every motorist to retake their test, either at set intervals or in old age, in order to keep their licence.
Two in three motorists now support the idea of compulsory driving re-tests. A majority suggest that they should take place once licence-holders are 70 or over, according to new survey results.
The policy has been growing in favour for some time, with just over half of drivers backing re-tests in the first half of January, but support surged after 97-year-old Prince Philip’s Land Rover crashed into another car and overturned.
The findings emerged in research by the online motor retail specialist, BuyaCar.co.uk, which began canvassing opinion on mandatory re-testing before the incident.
The sudden marked shift in public opinion also revealed a belief that it’s not just elderly drivers who could benefit: three in five respondents thought that every motorist should be tested every ten years – a higher proportion than before the crash.
However, a majority believed that this should be linked to age, with opinion fairly evenly split on a range of options between the ages of 70 and 90.
The survey asked 400 people ‘Do you think that drivers should have to re-take their driving test?’ and – if so – when?
Before the Royal crash a small majority of 53% said drivers should be re-tested. Since the crash, this increased to 66%.
In both cases, the most common timescale suggested was every ten years, but a majority of drivers believe that it should be linked to age.
No drivers thought that re-tests should be mandatory on retirement, but there was support for re-examination of 70-year-olds from 7.5%. Re-testing 75-year-olds was backed by 15% and 10% were in favour of testing at 80. There were 12.5% of respondents who believed testing should only happen at 85, and 10% who would stretch that to age 90.
Austin Collins, Managing Director of BuyaCar.co.uk, said: “We began gauging public opinion on this issue before the Duke of Edinburgh’s accident, which means we saw ‘in real time’ how the controversy affected public opinion on the question.
“Our findings suggest that policy makers could come under pressure now, from public opinion, to revisit the idea of routinely re-testing drivers. And that could mean the Duke of Edinburgh’s accident ultimately leading to an improvement in road safety.”
“Some might find it surprising that a majority of drivers are supporting a policy that would eventually see them re-tested, but some earlier research might help to explain: we found that 64% of motorists thought that their driving was better than average, so they are unlikely to be worried about the prospect of taking another driving test.”