Retaking your driving test probably isn’t something you thought you’d ever have to do. But it could be if a new petition, which has called for a compulsory driving test every three years once a driver turns 70, comes into force.
The petition has almost reached over 250,000 signatures, meaning that it will be debated in Parliament. It was started off by a man called Ben Brooks-Dutton, whose wife Desreen, 33, was killed by an 83-year-old pensioner in 2012, after the man mounted the pavement at 50mph. At the time, Desreen was walking with Ben, and their two-year-old son.
The pensioner also caused serious injury to a young girl who was walking on the pavement too, who suffered brain damage and lost an eye in the collision.
Ben Brooks-Dutton, who is campaigning for the change, said, “There needs to be some sort of test to check that we are well enough to drive.
“No one wants to take someone’s life – no one wants that hanging over them for the rest of their life, but a car is a powerful weapon.”
And the tragedy that the Brooks-Dutton family faced sadly isn’t that uncommon. In 2016, a three-year-old girl, Poppy Arabella Clarke, was killed when a pensioner – who had been told to stop driving because of his poor eyesight – ran in to her and her mother after failing to stop at a red light.
Currently, the law states that anyone over 70 has to renew their license every three years. But Brooks-Dutton said, “No one assesses an older person’s driving skills or reactions, no one checks their eyesight or hearing, no one sees if their reactions are still sharp enough to stop in an emergency.”
Neil Greig, director of policy and research for IAM RoadSmart, has said however that he does not want to see the new compulsory test come in.
He said, “If you look at the accident statistics 70-year-olds are actually just as safe as 50 or 60-year-old middle aged drivers. If you are going to re-test anybody based on their road safety record, it would be new drivers, two years after passing their test.”
But Neil has called for the introduction of eyesight tests at the age of 75, as a “half-way house” to improving the safety of older people driving.
He said, “There is going to be a huge increase in the number of older drivers on our roads, three times as many drivers over the age of 70 in the next 10 years.” Neil went on to admit, “We are unprepared for that.”
See Ben’s petition here.
You can still sign Ben’s petition – which also has the support of MP Harriet Harman.