Prince Philip’s hair-raising traffic accident last year has been credited with a 21% rise in the number of very old motorists handing back their driving licences — including a huge 39% jump for drivers his own age or older.
The Duke of Edinburgh was left hanging upside down after a collision with another vehicle as he pulled out of a driveway near the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk on 17 January 2019.
Official DVLA figures provided to retirement mortgage experts Responsible Life now reveal a 21.2% jump in the number of drivers aged 90 and over voluntarily surrendering their licences last year — rising from 6,612 to 8,014. This compares with an increase of 9.7% in 2018.
The jump in the figures was even more stark among the nation’s centenarians. The number of drivers aged 100 and over giving up their licences rose 146.2% to 32 in 2019. The Prince was aged 97 when he had his accident and among those aged 97 and over the annual increase was 39.4%.
Images of the Prince’s Land Rover lying upside down on the A149 were beamed around the world and provided a wake-up call to the very elderly who could still legally get in the driving seat.
There is no legal age when people must stop driving. Those concerned about their ability to drive in old age can ask for objective assessments from organisations such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.
Steve Wilkie, Executive Chairman of retirement specialists Responsible Life, said, “When to stop driving remains one of our most difficult decisions in later life. For many retired motorists it means letting go of a symbol of their independence, even if they only make the occasional trip to the local shops.
“Older age is also cruel and creeps up on you, making it impossible to judge the best time to let go of the steering wheel and get a taxi, rather than soldier on for another year.
“Prince Philip’s misfortunes, however, seem to have jogged a great number of people into confronting this difficult decision head on.”