Driving- Privilege or Entitlement?

by Shaun Audane   May 9, 2009  

 Here is the result of an elderly driver on the wrong side of the road and incapable of controlling their vehicle. They struck my mother’s Micra causing extensive damage to the transmission, wing and cosmetics. Mercifully both drivers and my mother’s border collie were able to walk away-insurance claims the only headache. What if it had been myself aboard the Univega towing my son on his tag-along, or a motorcyclist, pedestrian or horse rider? The law needs changing….Or better enforcement perhaps?

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8 user comments

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After the age of 70 drivers should have to sit the test again...simply to show that their hazard perception, eyesight and reaction times are strong enough to cope with a world that drives faster than when they passed originally. My grandmother drives and it terrifies me, she cant see properly but she sees it as her right as she has a license....no no no.

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1081 posts]
10th May 2009 - 11:03

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Your driving licence does expire at 70 and I'm guessing you have to provide some sort of medical evidence that you are still fit to drive to get a new one.

Either way, in my experience while doddery older drivers are a problem they are nothing compared to testosterone filled youths and should know better 'middle youths' they are the people who routinely nearly kill me.

hammergonewest's picture

posted by hammergonewest [105 posts]
11th May 2009 - 8:58

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Many codgers rely on cars to maintain their independence- I'm not saying they should be driving if incapable, but if you're going to start withdrawing licences, there should be a better support network than free bus passes which are worse than useless out in the sticks where I live.

posted by wild man [287 posts]
11th May 2009 - 10:05

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Totally agree wild man. Not to mention that if you are going to start withdrawing licences on the grounds of unfitness to old age, what about some sort of maturity qualification at the other end of the age scale… trickier I know because mental maturity isn't the same as physical maturity.

hammergonewest's picture

posted by hammergonewest [105 posts]
11th May 2009 - 10:45

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Asking for blanket changes to driving laws on the basis of one crash is a bit like asking for a cycling ban because a few idiots jump the lights. Bad driving is bad driving, it's not confined to the old. I see people every day not in control of their vehicles. Most of them aren't old. Most old people drive so slowly that they're unlikely to damage anything they crash into anyway, annoying when you're behind them but hardly worthy of a ban Smile

purplecup's picture

posted by purplecup [232 posts]
11th May 2009 - 20:38

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Suggesting that I am advocating wholesale changes to driving laws on the basis of one accident is perhaps misleading. Many of the most capable road users are above the age of retirement.

Some years ago, a man in his mid seventies deftly started my elderly Norton on my behalf before hopping on his own machine and moving with admirable skill through London traffic-case in point!

What I am calling for, using this incident as an example (and to some extent playing devil's advocate) is a cultural shift away from seeing driving as an unquestionable and absolute right.

The notion that "I have a licence, therefore it is my right to drive regardless" is in my view a very dangerous one. I am also of the opinion influenced in part by parents and grandparents who were also motorcylists; that holding a car licence alone does not by default a good road user make.

My late gandfather never had to retake his test(s) or have his driving evaluated in a practical sense. This was despite having very poor vision, a pacemaker, Parkinsons' and a wealth of other serious medical conditions severely compromising his and others' safety.

Safe vehicle use needs to be a skill emphasised in many forms throughout life-the number of times where there's been a near miss because a driver "assumed" no-one was coming-that it was only a solo bicycle/motorcycle and not one towing a tag-along/trailer etc never ceases to astound me.

I am not suggesting people re-sit the driving test but argue instead for regular and compulsory evaluation of driving competence throughout for all. It is impossible to legislate against accidents (no more than one can legislate against stupidity) but it might contribute to safer roads for everyone. Policing such could be tricky but adult and informed debate about these things can only be healthy. Smile

Shaun Audane's picture

posted by Shaun Audane [757 posts]
11th May 2009 - 23:39

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Im not suggesting that young people or company car drivers (I have been both) are at all better drivers. What I am saying is that the older people get the slower reactions become, should this be taken into account? A younger person (by this I mean, for example, below....say 60, so not 'young')should have quick enough reactions to avoid an incident wheras an 85+ year old person may not.

I saw a tv program the other day, cops with cameras or somthing similar. An old gent got to the top of a sliproad on a motorway and turned right into the traffic instead of following the roundabout to the left. Luckily the drivers going the other way were aware enough to see this and the police on the scene put things right. He was cheerily waved on his way when told to go the other way. If an 18 year old guy had done that then he would have got points.

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1081 posts]
12th May 2009 - 7:23

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Not disagreeing with your premise - that the ability to pilot 2 tons of potentially lethal machinery is not a god given right - but I don't think the answer is legislation, or more rules. Stop for a second and consider how you feel about the idea that you might have to license a bike, you'll see what I mean.

It isn't a perfect world, roads are never going to be safe but we can make them safer by education. My dad and father in law both drove into their eighties; my dad should have given up 10 years earlier and only gave up after a stroke, my father in law gave up within weeks of him realising he probably needed to.

If more people could be encouraged to develop advanced driving skills, the roads would be safer. It is ironic that the people most in need are those who are (probably) least likely to take it on board. And you know what? the same applies to bikes, too. (just the consequences of running amok with a bike are slightly less dramatic)

londondailyphoto's picture

posted by londondailyphoto [73 posts]
14th May 2009 - 23:13

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