Home Health When are you too weak to drive?

When are you too weak to drive?

When they leave the Welcome Break petrol station on the M40 near Oxford, drivers are hit by a roundabout that filters traffic back to the north or south of the freeway.

If Londoners miss the exit to the capital and accidentally take the next one, they land on the A40 in the direction of Oxford. After about a mile, the road ends at an intersection that leads to a one-way street.

In fact, it is an access road to the two-lane road to the north. Turn right and head in the wrong direction up the A40, which then merges with the M40. It's a terrible scenario.

Stuart Richards was referred to as the "Rock of the Family". On a bike ride with his father Mel, he is pictured right

And this, it seems, was the deadly mistake that John Norton, 80, and his 87-year-old passenger, Olive Howard, made last month when they drove home to High Wycombe.

The result was tragic: At a frightening speed, the subaru of the couple who was carrying a caravan drove into oncoming traffic. John, who recovered from the cancer treatment, and Olive were killed, as was the 32-year-old Stuart Richards, a former soldier from Stockport.

Although the exact details are not yet known, it is difficult not to notice the age of the driver and his health – and the fact that this is just one of the recent series of catastrophic traffic accidents due to mistakes made by older drivers.

In March last year, 73-year-old John Place, who could not see well, accidentally mowed a three-year-old girl on her way to kindergarten in Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands when he did not see a red light. A pedestrian crossing.

Months later, Norman and Doreen Clarke were killed on a Welsh highway when the 81-year-old Norman hit the accelerator pedal and sent her through the central reservation barrier into a tree.

And in August, emergency services rushed to Newcastle's Bankfoot Station, where a confused elderly woman had hit the railroad tracks, risking both her life and thousands of passengers.

Unfortunately, these are not isolated cases. The Mail on Sunday shows that the number of drivers over 70 years old who were recalled by the DVLA for additional testing increased 20 percent from 4,424 to 5,500 last year.

According to Driving Mobility, the UK's only provider of medical driving tests, more than half of these retirees will fail these tests and, as a result, revoke their licenses.

Although it is generally assumed that reckless younger drivers pose the greatest danger, new figures from DVLA prove that this is not the case.

Motorists over the age of 65 accounted for eight percent of the total number of driving crimes committed in 2017, compared to three percent committed by under-22s.

People over the age of 70 are twice as likely as 17-year-olds to be run over because of speeding, and traffic or road signals are misunderstood three times more frequently.

While young men are still responsible for the most fatalities, high-risk driving among the five million pensioners on the road is becoming a growing concern – especially as the number of OAPs on the road increases by 750,000 every year.

Accidents waiting to happen?

Motorists over the age of 80 crash four times more often than others, says Sergeant Rob Heard, a road safety officer for Hampshire Police, who also runs The Older Drivers Forum – an organization that keeps older drivers on the road longer & # 39; ,

Sgt Heard says, "The number of serious driving offenses committed by this age group is slowly increasing.

"Older drivers need more time to process information. They make slower decisions and can not predict dangers as risks. They may also lack mobility and field of vision. "

Sgt Heard's passion is because he personally witnessed the devastating effects of aging vision on British roads.

In March 2011, he was called to a burning car on the A30 near Basingstoke in Hampshire.

Inside, twenty-eight-year-old Neil Colquhoun, who had driven home from a friend's house when a tall Volvo driving in the wrong direction on a two-lane road, hit him at 60 miles an hour and his little Vauxhall went up in flames.

Neil was trapped in his car and died of his injuries. The Volvo driver, the 89-year-old gymnast Waddell, was blind in one eye and partly visually impaired on the other.

Neil's mother Patricia says, "It was so cruel. The driver had failed an eye test the day before the crash and showed signs of early dementia.

"He had forgotten that he had driven on a two-lane road, he should never have been on the road."

Waddell received a nine-month prison sentence.


According to charities, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Action on Hearing Loss, a quarter of over-70s suffer from health ailments, three quarters have hearing problems, and half lose at least some of their sight.

While all this is a natural consequence of aging, just squinting on the streets could mean the difference between life and death.

A recent report published by the Association of Optometrists found that the quality of vision is regulated by law up to one-third of all motorists.

It is estimated that more than 2,000 accidents could be avoided every year if regular eye examinations were carried out.

Britain has some of the laxest visibility laws in Europe. At any age, eye examinations are not mandatory for driving tests – except for reading a license plate from a distance of 20 meters during the original driving test.

Deadly mistake: John Norton's Subaru and Caravan on the wrong side of the M40

Deadly mistake: John Norton's Subaru and Caravan on the wrong side of the M40

Deadly mistake: John Norton's Subaru and the caravan on the wrong side of the M40

In September, Sgt Heard and his colleagues in the Thames Valley, Hampshire and West Midlands fought out unpredictable drivers by introducing highway road inspections.

They stopped vehicles indiscriminately and ordered motorists to perform a basic eye test. Those who failed had revoked their license on the spot. The results of the tests are expected to be published in the next few weeks.

But Sgt Heard believes that's not enough. "The 20-yard test does not take into account the peripheral vision loss – we need a special eye test for elderly drivers with field of vision. The law has to change. "

The latest series of tragedies coincides with a new government action to stop unsuspecting, dangerous drivers in their tracks.

A bipartisan parliamentary group, led by MP Jack Dromey, is debating the introduction of compulsory eye exams and medical examinations for drivers.

At the top of the lobbying group's agenda is the issue of screening for over-70s.

Jonathan Lawson, CEO of Vision Express, who is involved in Mr. Dromey's group, says: "It is not required by law that drivers must perform a regular eye test. There are good reasons for more frequent tests by older drivers to ensure that drivers inevitably get worse as they get older and with increasing vision, and ensure that they and pedestrians are protected. "


If you are 70 years old, you are required by law to renew your license through an online or postal form. This is a questionnaire – essentially a checkbox exercise – that relies on the honesty of applicants to obtain accurate medical information on medical conditions or disabilities that may affect their vision or ability to drive, such as arthritis or dementia ,

If you are lying and getting caught, you have a fine of £ 1,000.

General practitioners and opticians are not required by law to inform the authorities about the diagnosis of a patient. According to Samuel Nahke of the BRAKE road safety charity, most general practitioners are more concerned about patient confidentiality than about road safety.


The over 70-year-olds, who regularly carry out eye examinations and driving assessments every two to three years, are far less likely to be involved in a crash and, according to Sgt Heard, drive longer.

In response to growing concerns about the safety of elderly drivers, the DVLA is now funding a nationwide expansion of the new Fitness To Drive tests, designed for both those in need of medical attention and those over 70 years old.

Motorists can take the test instead of penalty points after a crime. Everyone can volunteer for an assessment, but most are referred by the DVLA and 95 percent are over 70 years old.

If the test sees a driver as unsafe to continue driving, he will likely lose his license.

But it's not just bad news: some drivers are offered free lessons each month, and after three months a review test is done. Memory, visual and medical tests can help identify conditions such as arthritis that could cause a driver to adjust his vehicle. For Hertfordshire's 67-year-old Kenneth Billins, who suffered a severe stroke in June, assessing fitness for driving has proven to be life-changing.

"I had a weakness on my left leg and arm and thought I would never be able to drive again," says Billins, who relies on his car to travel to a steel mill.

He volunteered for the driving test and found that he was more competent than he had feared. By changing from a manual transmission to an automatic transmission, he is back on the road.

"Without my car, I would not have independence. It's critical to my social life, "he says.

He is still realistic and is heavily involved in annual eye exams and full disclosure of any medical conditions to the DVLA.

So when does he plan to hang up his keys?

Like many drivers, he is not ready to give up his independence. "As long as I'm in control and taking care of myself, never," he says.

For Mr. Hearts, Mr. Billins is a shining example of how older drivers can benefit from regular testing – a program he implements.

"The current test method is not appropriate," says Sgt Heard. "The number of collisions of older people is only getting worse in view of the aging population."

Next March marks the eighth anniversary of the tragic death of Neil Colquhoun. For his mother Patricia, it is a lifelong commitment to fight for the stricter road regulations for older drivers.

"Motorists in the 80s and 90s should undergo a medical test and a visual check with reaction times," she says.

"It's not just about her, it's supposed to protect other people on the street, we have to stop what happened to my son."

I have dementia … but I still drive

By Bonnie Estridge

This is a very sensitive topic. I love having a car, but due to my condition, there is a chance I will not be able to drive much longer.

After my diagnosis last year, we were told that I had to tell the DVLA that I had early-stage dementia.

My husband Chris and I filled out a form online, then the DVLA wrote to my family doctor and consultant. The only question I was asked was whether my eyesight was compromised in any way.

Six weeks later my new license arrived. This has to be renewed every year, and I assume that they repeat the process. We have also informed the insurance company.

Should I drive now? Well, at 67, I'm not a stupid old Biddy.

Chris says I should not sit behind the wheel, but let's just say we do not agree.

When I wrote The A Word in my regular e-mail column, which I had lost on the way to the dentist – a journey I had made countless times – I received a number of e-mails from readers who had been with me for many years agreed man.

Of course I can drive, so it's right that I'm legally entitled to it, and my situation is self-limiting.

Nowadays, I am only confident to toot to the nearby Sainsbury's or TK Maxx. I never liked the highway anyway, so I'm not starting now.

My parking may be a bit strange, but to be honest, I think it has always been that way! But I will continue until I or my doctors decide that it is time to stop.


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