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Calls to Change Law for Drivers over 70 after Fatal Road Accident

The mother of a motorcyclist killed when a pensioner drove across his path has called for tighter legislation to cover drivers aged over 70.

Karl Micklethwaite, 26, was knocked off his Kawasaki ZX1000 by 70-year-old motorist Valerie Smith on the A614 Bawtry Road in June 2012.  

Mrs Smith, from Doncaster, admitted she saw the motorcyclist before turning her Ford Focus into his path while attempting to drive into a friend’s driveway.  

The driver was arrested and due to stand trial at Nottingham Crown Court but a charge of causing death by careless driving was later dropped by prosecutors due to the motorbike’s excessive speed.  

A two day inquest into Mr Micklethwaite’s death was held at Nottingham Coroner’s Court on Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22 January 2014. 

Ahead of the hearing his mother Diane Micklethwaite called for special driving tests to be introduced for the over-70s to check they are still safe behind the wheel. 

Ms Micklewaite, 52, who owns the Norfolk Arms public house in Worksop said, “As a family we are desperately heartbroken over the sudden tragic loss of a hard working, kind and inspirational young man. 

“It has been a very difficult time for us and we are only now beginning to come to terms with what has happened thanks to the support of friends and family and now we are looking for answers. 

“While I do not believe Mrs Smith should have been sent to prison I was very upset that she was cleared without conviction or driving ban. 

“Mrs Smith made a number of critical errors of judgment that cost my son his life and for that I believe she should have been banned from driving because I do not think she is safe on the roads.” 

She added, “While nothing will bring back my son this case has highlighted to me that the existing legislation governing older drivers is grossly inadequate. 

“I believe drivers who are more than 70 years of age should have to prove they are cognitively able to drive and then this should be monitored on a regular basis. Also, drivers who are involved in fatal accidents should automatically get a 5 year driving ban and also have to take their driving tests again”. 

Slater and Gordon Personal Injury Lawyer Linda Yen Fox who is representing Mrs Micklewaite, said, “This tragic case highlights the importance of the need for car drivers to watch out particularly for vulnerable motorcyclists on the road. 

“As this case involves an elderly 70 year old driver, it also raises questions concerning whether there should be a retest introduced for elderly drivers or an age limit, as during the inquest, Valerie Smith confirmed that she had seen Karl, but she still made the decision to turn right across his path when it was clearly unsafe to do so.”

For more details call Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online.

Media Contact: Lee Cain. Tel: 0207 657 1692