Medical issues may affect our ability to drive safely, particularly as we get older.
The recent case of an 80-year-old who mistook the accelerator for the brake and drove into a group of schoolchildren raised the controversial issue of whether more rigorous checks are needed for elderly drivers.
At present, drivers are obliged to renew their licence once they reach the age of 70 and every three years thereafter.
The onus is on the driver to inform the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) of any medical conditions that will affect their driving.
Year on year, driving data shows that younger drivers are a far greater risk on the roads than more experienced motorists. Teenage drivers, for example, make up only 1.5 per cent of UK licence holders but account for 9 per cent of fatal and serious crashes.
Statistics from the DVLA show that elderly drivers represent 10 per cent of UK licence holders, yet are involved in only six per cent of accidents.
The tragic case of Norma Jones, who described herself as ‘confused and befuddled’ when she drove into eight schoolgirls, leaving one with brain damage, is not representative of all older drivers.
But should the law, as Judge David Aubrey QC in the case suggests, be reviewed in light of this?
As we grow older, we become more prone to medical issues such as failing eyesight.
Health problems related to ageing may also require prescription medication, eight types of which were recently restricted to a prescribed limit in a bid to improve road safety.
For more information on the Drug Driving Law, see: 50% of UK Drivers Still Confused about new Drug Driving Law
In comparison to the UK, other areas of the EU require motorists to undergo mandatory tests with an ophthalmologist and a medical examination by their GP before being declared fit to drive.
An option would be to require a driver to attend their GP more regularly after their 70th birthday for a ‘health check’ to provide objective information to the driver as to their fitness to drive, and to raise awareness to the driver that they should not drive if they feel unwell.
Whatever age we are, it is in all our interests to make sure we act responsibly to ensure the safety of ourselves and other people on the roads.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers offer a free consultation for people injured in road traffic accidents through no fault of their own. Call freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help you.