On average motorists do not get the hang of driving until they reach the age of 59, according to a study by Continental Tyres.
Researchers examined the driving habits of 4,000 motorists in the UK and Ireland, and found those aged 59 are least likely to have pranged a car in the last 12 months, have suffered road rage, or been stopped by police or gardaí.
They also shy away from taking risks, and have not been caught speeding in the last year or been slapped with fines. By contrast, 24-year-olds emerged as the least considerate drivers on the road with those in their early twenties more likely to chat on their mobile phone, run a red light, and scare others with their driving.
“While you would expect young drivers to be more impatient and older drivers to be more cautious, it is shocking that it takes such a long time after passing your test to become an accomplished driver,” said Paddy Murphy of Continental Tyres, the company which commissioned the research.
“Unfortunately, the shortcomings of our younger drivers are borne out all too clearly by our road accident statistics. They can certainly learn from the older generation.”
According to the Road Safety Authority, young drivers in Ireland are five times more likely to lose their lives on the roads than other motorists.
The Continental Tyres survey shows similar attitudes to car maintenance, with older drivers 41 per cent more likely to check their tyres before setting off on a long journey than motorists in their mid-twenties.
The study found that drivers reaching 60 made fewer mistakes, had fewer penalty points, and ranked their driving 7.6 out of 10, while those more than half their age were less convinced of their own performance and rated themselves 6.7 out of 10.
It emerged that only one in 20 59-year-olds had pranged a car in the last year and just three per cent have been pulled over by police/gardaí. But for those reaching their mid-twenties, one in five have hit another car, six in 10 swear at other motorists, and 14 per cent have been stopped by the police.
And while a quarter of 59-year-olds may accelerate too quickly, four per cent have been caught speeding, and one in 20 having received a fine, 24-year-olds fared much worse.
A massive 56 per cent in this age category admit they regularly drive too close to the car in front, one in six have been done for going too fast, and one in five has been fined.
The older generation put their driving skills down to being calm behind the wheel and experience, while 20-somethings said they tend to drive “a bit too quickly” and aggressively.