Elderly drivers caught speeding or breaking other traffic laws should be sent on special training courses to make sure they are still safe behind the wheel, a new report claims.
The recommendation comes as new figures show that as many as six million over 70s are now on our roads, compared with less than a million 35 years ago.
The huge explosion of car driving pensioners means that a national strategy is needed to make sure that they are not a danger to themselves or others, it is claimed.
It also raises the controversial spectre of mandatory retesting to make sure that their age and health is not impairing their ability to control a car.
The report called It’s My Choice by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (Pacts) said that while only 15 per cent of over-70s held a driving licence in 1975, the figure for 2010 was nearly 60 per cent.
While figures show that the elderly are safer than younger drivers, the reductions in the number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads in recent years have fallen far more slowly among older drivers.
The fact that the second baby boomer generation â€“ from the 1960s â€“ is soon to swell their ranks means that the government needs to look at the effect it will have on the roads.
Around 80 per cent of current 60-69 year olds hold licences and will continue to drive for around the next 20 years.
More than 80 per cent of 30-39 year olds are licence holders and will drive until at least 2050.
“The report therefore concludes that older road users are here to stay and that a national strategy for an ageing population is vital,” said Pacts executive director Robert Gifford.
“We have national speed awareness courses for people who are caught speeding and may be we should have a similar course for older drivers”.
The report also pointed out that pedestrian deaths and serious injuries among all ages had fallen by 41 per cent between 2000 and 2010, but it was lower among the elderly.
The for 60 to 69-year-old pedestrians was 37 per cent, for 70-79 year olds it was 40 per cent and for those 80 or over it was 33 per cent.
The car-occupant death and serious injury reduction for all ages between 2000 and 2010 was 54 per cent.
But the fall for 60-69 year old car occupants was only 44 per cent, with the decline for 70-79 year olds being 43 per cent and for those aged 80 or over it was only 16 per cent.
The report also drew the distinction between road users who were at risk and who posed a risk to others.
Older road users tended to be in the former group, it said.
The report added that it was therefore essential that planning decisions were “health-checked” for older people and that the medical profession was more effective in giving advice on both physical and mental fitness to drive.
Mr Gifford said: “Over the next decade the balance of the population in this country will change. Older people need to be kept mobile and safe.
“I hope that this report will generate a national discussion about the state of our pavements and the relevance of self-regulation when it comes to giving up your driving licence.
“We need to move beyond seeing older people as a problem to viewing them as contributing to a mixed society.”
Strategy needed to cope with explosion in number of elderly drivers