If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that the UK driving test is due for some changes that are set to come into effect in December (You can read all about them here). It’s a no brainer that as technology advances, and cars get faster and smarter and road laws change, the tests that allow us to drive need to change too. But what about our beloved nannas and grandads passed their tests 40+ years ago? As their reaction times slow, their eyes and ears get worse and their driving licenses continue to yellow in their wallets - how are they keeping up with the stresses and strains of modern motoring?
As it stands, when motorists reach the age of 70 they can reapply to renew their driving license once every three years by filling in a reassessment form - no reactions testing, no assessment of their driving and no medical tests whatsoever. And while a majority of older drivers are completely competent, able-bodied and are able to drive safely, there are many that are not, and are able to remain on the road because of this process.
This has come to a head from a number of cases over the last few years - one of which is the case of Benjamin Brooks-Dutton, who lost his wife as a result of the actions of an unfit elderly driver in 2015. In this case, the 84 year old had confused the pedals of his vintage car, accelerating violently when he meant to brake, and mounted the curb at 54mph, killing 33 year old Desreen, leaving Ben a widower with a young son. The judge who heard the case described the danger of unfit elderly drivers; ‘An elderly driver who knows, or should acknowledge, that he or she is losing his or her faculties is no less a danger than a drunken driver who knows the same.’
This was also highlighted in the tragic case of three year old Poppy-Arabella Clarke, who was killed by a 72 year old man who had been told to stop driving, due to his poor eyesight even while wearing his glasses. Shedding light on a very real worry that even when recommended to stop, some will not, and it is up to our medical institutions who issues those recommendations, to report them.
In the years that have followed, Ben has set up a petition that has now reached over 249,519 supporters at the time of writing - recommending that motorists over the age of 70 should undergo ‘appropriate retesting’ once every 3 years to maintain their license. Clearly, nearly 250,000 people agree:
There are, however, many that don’t agree. Many disagree with ‘blanket retesting’ on any level, and feel that the majority of older motorists who are safe are being unfairly penalised. This is also supported by the statistics showing that many more drivers aged 18-29 are killed in accidents than those over the age of 70 and the claims that older drivers are more dangerous are simply unfounded.
Considering this - is there a need for appropriate retesting for those over the age of 70? Should elderly motorists be made to retake the test to keep their license? Should ANYONE regardless of age be made to retest? Let us know!