Brake calls for stricter checks on older drivers

11.17 | 12 February 2010 | | 7 comments

Brake is calling for controls on older drivers following the death of an 18-month-old boy earlier this week when a car driven by an  89-year-old man apparently mounted the pavement.

Jayden Bloomer died in hospital after suffering multiple injuries in the collision in Accrington, Lancashire, on Tuesday. His mother, Jackie, 30, remains in a critical condition and the driver also died later in hospital.

Cathy Keeler, Brake deputy chief executive, said: “Current law requires drivers over the age of 70 to renew their licence and fill in a self assessment form every three years declaring they are safe to drive .

"Brake believes this isn’t good enough and there should be an annual ‘fit to drive’ health check carried out by a professional. These checks should also be required every five years for drivers under the age of 70, as health can deteriorate at any age.

"More frequent checks are needed for older drivers as there are known health risks associated with ageing that directly affect driving ability, including loss of eyesight and hearing. Older drivers may also have health conditions or take medication that can impair driving.

"Drivers who have a high risk of heart attack or fainting fits must not be allowed behind the wheel.”

Brake is also calling for a Government consultation to consider a maximum driving age and regular re-test as well as the above measures.

Click here to read the full Brake news release or ring 01484 559909 for more information.








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    I fully agree with checks every five years for all drivers, it will raise driving standards across the board and may result in fewer avoidable crashes.

    Nigel Robson
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    When Brake were formed they had the best of intentions, now they seem to demand this that and the other without any justification. Is it really acceptable to impose yearly retesting on all elderly people because of ONE accident? The cause of which does even appear to have been determined with any certainty?
    Nor is it acceptable to impose an age limit. People are not all affected by old age in the same way, one person may become unfit at 75, another may be perfectly capable at 95.
    It should be up to the individual to judge when they are no longer fit to drive.
    I have experienced a minor accident caused by an elderly person’s poor judgement, and another near miss, but I haven’t started demanding all elderly people be subjected to unnecessary retests, because I see that these were isolated incidents that hopefully the people involved will learn from.
    Such demands are ageist, plain and simple.

    Chris, Midlands
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    This is another blunderbus, knee-jerk reaction so typical of Brake that causes them to be held in disregard by many practitioners. There is insufficient conclusive evidence that older drivers, per se, are a general threat to road safety. Some may be, many are not and, as we saw in a recent Road Safety GB Newsletter, if older drivers have a propensity it is towards safety not danger. The frightening aspect of this reaction from Brake is that they, unfortunately, get attention from those with the capacity to take forward their flawed suggestions. Brake relies heavily on publicity to generate income so they say silly things knowing it will attract that attention. Who else does this? Jeremy Clarkson!

    I have suggested before that Road Safety GB, as an erudite, professional organisation, disassociates itself from this tabloid group. Please may I repeat that suggestion?

    Roy Buchanan, Principal Road Safety Officer, London Borough of Sutton
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    A typical brake ‘shoot from the hip’ comment based on supposition ‘It is thought that the driver lost control of the car when he became ill at the wheel.’

    In this same Bulletin is a comment re younger drivers. Does Brake believe younger drivers should be banned too? Although we pensioners get free bus travel bus services are often not very convenient and journeys by bus take much longer than by car. Experience in Florida, a land of many elderly drivers has shown a reluctance amongst the police to enforce restrictions on older drivers because it might be their parents or themselves one day. Accidents happen, the right to personal mobility by driving is very important to a good lifestyle and Brake should not try to deny this.

    Arthur Canal, St Albans
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Recent figures show that people in this age group are not the risk they are protrayed to be. It just makes good press headlines and I can’t help but feel that Brake are just jumping on the band wagon for more publicity. I wonder if the Brake representative and her colleagues practice what they preach and have regular eye tests and medicals to make sure that they are okay to drive and regularly read the highway code to ensure that they are up to date. I very much doubt it.

    Surely Brake know from their extensive research that as a driver you are obligated, and sign up to this on your original application form, to notify the autorities should there be ANY health problems that affect your ability to drive.

    As for the eyesight test driving instructor groups have been trying for years for a proper eyesight test to be required not just “would you read that number plate over there for me please”, which you can do with one eye shut or even missing!

    I agree with Honor Byford from Yorkshire, be more constructive and not just bully the elderly. After all they have a huge voting power as they are the group most likely to vote and you will be there soon enough yourself it comes around suprisingly quicky

    Don Harris. Sussex
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    This past week I have as an IAM examiner (not the day job) carried out a DriveCheck55 assessed drive for an 82 years old man. With the exception of a couple of errors, which did not put the car in danger his drive was quite acceptable and I felt relaxed throughout the drive. This drive is available to anyone who just wants to have an independent assessment and do have to undertaken any training with the IAM.

    I believe a five yearly theory test would be unweildy and extremely unpopular with many people who have a very busy life. A practical driving assessment might be a better form of regular check.

    However the real need is for all potential drivers to receive a much greater level of training at the outset so that they become drivers rather than licence holders. The instruction needs to be on all types of road and delivered by instructors who have undergone a far greater level of training than perhpas they have to date. All too often I have followed a driving school car and watched it travel in an almost straight line wahtever the peripheral dangers, no lateral movement to take account of children on the pavement, the approach of a vehicle at a side road etc.

    If Brake really want a crusade then there it is. Yes I am sure that there are many older drivers out there who are less than ideal but throughout the day I see young and so called middle aged drivers not wearing seat belts, using their mobile phones, exceeding the speed limit and just not driving well.

    The older driver is not a target for my team which in turn tells me that they do not appear as a problem within out stats to any great degree.

    So greater training and greater road policing enforcement to deal with those who need to be dealt with and things might then improve.

    Honor Byford’s last paragraph sums it up extremely well and I would support every word of it.

    Alan Hale, South Gloucestershire.
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    There are undoubtedly some older drivers for whom it is time to let someone else drive. Making the GP play the role of policing them has never sat comfortably with me. The manual involved is a weighty tome that takes time to work through (at 10 minutes per patient visit. I do not agree that annual medical and hearing tests are necessary, beneficial or desirable. The question “do you drive?” should be included in the standard questions asked in relation to a number of health conditions and check ups, making it reklated to medical conditions rather than just age. A five yearly theory test – for ALL drivers – would keep people up to date and would make them consider the law and how they drive on a regular basis throughout their driving life. With an aging population, the needs and concerns of older drivers are becoming more important. This issue must also take account of the many large rural areas in this country where public transport is infrequent or non existent, so is not an alternative. The difference between autonomy – deciding when you will do things and where and how you will travel – is an important part of our independence and identity, we should not be looking to remove it from a large section of the population without much careful consideration and a strong evidence base. The ability to access local shops, services and wider leisure interests as well as being able to visit friends and family, hospital visiting etc also plays an important part in this.

    I would encourage Brake please to take a more inclusive, less authoritarian approach to the older drivers needs and rights as well as their perceived risks. Schemes like Suffolks Grand Driver, Gloucestershire’s SAGE, Older Driver Assessment and other, similar programmes are good, constructive approaches to this that offer a more positive solution without alienating a significant and socially vulnerable part of our community.

    Honor Byford, North Yorkshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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