“Has the time come for driving tests for the over 70’s?”
“Many of us will have read of the 80 year old lady who became confused and drove into a group of children, seriously injuring them. She was spared an immediate custodial sentence by what many people may consider to be an act of mercy by the Judge.
There was also recently reported the case of a man in his 80’s crashing after driving the wrong way along the M60 motorway in Greater Manchester.
But, should they have been behind the wheel of a car in the first place?
The answer is almost certainly no but under our current system she was the only person required to consider that question.
One method of prevention would be to introduce a new mandatory driving test at the age of 70 to be repeated every three years but I for one would say that is not the answer.
Many of us are aware of persons well under 70 years of age who either through gaining bad habits or from the early onset of poor eyesight or of dementia should certainly be removed from having a licence.
Of course the current legislation allow for those who make serious driving mistakes to be removed from the road but it takes no account for those who we might think of as “he is alright to potter down to the shops but he is not to drive the grandchildren anywhere”.
The answer I believe would be to come in the form of two fundamental changes to the law.
The first would be that every year every driver would be subject to a brief ten minute independent check of their driving ability, not a driving test but a much shorter driving check. Surely if we allow for our cars functions to be tested every 12 months in an MOT how much more important is it that the car’s driver be briefly checked.
The second and perhaps more controversial change that I propose would be the more regular use by the Police of prosecutions for an offence of aiding and abetting dangerous driving. This would be used when family or friends who are aware that “auntie so and so is a bit iffy when it comes to driving” but nothing about bringing that fact to the attention of the Authorities. I do appreciate that the prosecutions for this offence might be only after an event of dangerous driving has happened but if people were made aware that there was a real possibility that they could be prosecuted in those circumstances they would be duty bound to act to prevent a person who is perceived to be a risk from continuing to drive.
We may well ask when it is the appropriate time to send a driving licence back to the DVLA as you feel that you shouldn’t be driving any more. Fortunately my father at the age of 82 felt it was time but in an age of ever increasingly aged drivers many are proving not to be so altruistic.”