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Compulsory Retests for Older Drivers?

The family of a couple killed by an 80-year-old driver have called for compulsory retests for older motorists. At the moment, drivers and motorcyclists over 70 simply have to renew their licence every three years, declaring that they are fit to drive, including to an eyesight standard.

Roger and Christine Barton were killed when 80-year-old Michael Hamburger pulled out in front of their VW Tiguan, which was pushed into the opposite lane of traffic and struck by another car. Winchester Court heard that Mr Hamburger had an “unobstructed” 500-metre view of traffic in clear and dry conditions.

Georgina Abbot, daughter of the Bartons, said, “I think we should all be retested at a certain age. Relying on a driver to declare their incapacity just isn’t a robust system and endangers the lives of themselves and others.”

However, Jim Freeman, Chair of the BMF, warned against the danger of assuming that older drivers and riders were less fit to drive than younger ones. “Age brings experience, which tends to make us more cautious on the roads. Ask an insurance company. I would support compulsory eye testing, rather than relying on self-declaration, as many of us are all too aware, eyesight changes can easily creep up on the best-intentioned people. Mind you, as those of us who’ve suffered in SMIDSY [Sorry Mate, I didn’t see you] incidents, it doesn’t matter how good someone’s eyesight is, if they don’t look properly in the first place.”

Written by Peter Henshaw

Top image courtesy of Joshua Lawrence – Unsplash