Senior Police Scotland officers say roads could be made safer if motorists with conditions such as diabetes and glaucoma – often associated with older people – had to surrender their licences.
The controversial proposals were outlined in a presentation to councillors in Aberdeenshire by Chief Inspector Elaine Logue.
She said an “innovative” approach under discussion could mean the force working with the NHS to identify drivers who were unfit for the roads.
Motorists are already obliged to inform the DVLA about conditions such as epilepsy, sleep apnoea, diabetes and glaucoma, and are required to surrender their licences if doctors believe it is unsafe for them to drive.
Ch Insp Logue said: “We need a new, innovative way to deal with this and we are working on this at a command level.
“A lot of people killed on our roads are down to driver error or unfitness to drive. This may be down to medical issues.”
Ch Insp Logue – who is eager to pilot the new programme in the Buchan area of Aberdeenshire – added: “Road safety and accident prevention are one of our major priorities. Our performance is good overall in the Buchan area, but we are far from complacent.”
Road safety group Brake broadly backed the idea. The charity has urged the government to introduce compulsory eyesight tests for road users after a survey found 1.5 million UK drivers had never had their eyes tested, despite poor eyesight causing 2,900 casualties each year.
Spokesman James McLoughlin said: “We would urge anyone who suspects they have an impairing condition to refrain from driving and seek advice from their doctor and the DVLA.”
But pensioner group Age Concern said it would be wrong to target older drivers when, proportionately, they were involved in fewer accidents than less experienced motorists.
A spokeswoman said: “Caricatures of bad older drivers mean there is an ongoing debate about road safety and people in later life, but this is not reflected in road safety statistics.”
Research by the RAC suggests drivers over 75 make up 6 per cent of licence-holders but account for only 4.3 per cent of deaths and serious injuries. Drivers aged 16 to 20, while making up just 2.5 per cent of road-users, account for 13 per cent of deaths and serious injury.
Norman Lawrence, 96, from Aberdeenshire, who made headlines when he passed an advanced driving test said: “I think it’s wrong to think that older drivers are more dangerous than younger ones.
“Why should I be targeted when it’s the younger drivers who are the ones who crash?
“I’m still driving every day and I think I’m a lot safer on the roads than some of these youngsters who go at crazy speeds.”
The AA agreed it would be wrong to generalise about older motorists.