Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

Do we need mandatory retesting for older drivers?

Suspended sentence for poor eyesight driver, 80, who killed cyclist after failing to see him, raises questions about retesting drivers above a certain age, says Cycling UK

The death of a cyclist following collision with an 80-year-old driver with known eyesight problems, who didn’t see him, has raised questions about driver retesting and medical fitness, says the national cycling charity.

George Barrett was sentenced to a suspended prison term and a lifetime driving disqualification, on Friday, for causing the death of Ian Jobson by careless driving on 10 June 2014. Barrett, then 78, had known about his sight problem since 2012, but was not wearing his glasses on the day of the collision, when he failed a roadside driving test. He denied the charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

Jobson’s family has urged people who know they can’t see well enough to think twice about driving. Cycling UK (formerly CTC), says the case raises questions over how the DVLA regulates and tests fitness of drivers whose reaction times and sight are declining, against the backdrop of an ageing population.

Police seize more than 600 licences under Cassie's Law for bad eyesight

In a statement it said: “Cycling UK recognises that sentencing elderly and otherwise law-abiding citizens for driving offences, when they have a long and largely unblemished driving record, is an unenviable task for judges more accustomed to punishing offenders they perceive the prisons were designed for.

“This case however, not for the first time, raises the increasingly important issue of how, with an ageing population where people want to maintain independence and continue driving as long as possible, the DVLA regulates and tests the fitness to drive of those whose reactions, sight and road confidence are declining.”

Barrett, who failed a second eyesight tests a few months after the crash, was sentenced to 12 weeks’ custody suspended for 12 months, and is the subject of a three month curfew, from 8pm to 8am. Cycling UK questions why he was still allowed to drive, and has asked for consideration of compulsory driving tests for drivers above a certain age.

Jobson, who was a member of the Tandem Club, regularly rode as the sighted pilot with a partially-sighted stoker.

Cycling UK said: “In a cruel twist of fate, a compassionate man who gave his own time to work with and support SeeAbility, an organisation which assists adults with visual and other disabilities, lost his own life when Barrett declined to deal with and accept the consequences of a sight problem which he had been aware of since 2012.” 

Tighten tests to ensure older motorists fit to drive, says lawyer

Jobson’s daughter, Erica Popplewell, believes the lifetime ban reflects the seriousness of the offence and urges people whose sight is failing to think twice about driving. She said: “Anyone whose eyesight or ability to drive is deteriorating should ask themselves whether they should still be driving. I hope that what happened here also prompts people to ask their family members the same difficult question when they are aware that their eyesight is going or they are no longer safe to drive.”

In 2013 new powers were given to police under legislation known as Cassie’s Law, introduced following the death of an 11-year-old girl, who died after being hit by a car driven by 87-year-old Colin Horsfall, who had failed a police eyesight test just a few days earlier.

Sally Preece was killed in 2014 when 78-year-old Kenneth McLelland hit her head on while he overtook a slow-moving campervan on a winding mountain road, arguably highlighting the dangers posed when those unfit to drive go undetected.

Cycling UK adds: “Should some of these drivers still be on the roads, should we be looking again at driver re-testing, and how do we ensure that medical fitness to drive involves more than self-certification?”

 

Add new comment

44 comments

Avatar
Hirsute | 1 year ago
2 likes

Quick summary from The Psychology of driving.

Older drivers: drive less, shorter trips, familiar roads, avoid tricky situations (rush hour), drive slower with bigger gaps to the next vehicle.

Don't use mways, so stats are skewed as they really only use roads with a higher accident rates.

Not good at right turns from a side road crossing 2 lanes of traffic.

Sight

Mainly comes down to static acuity (reading a number plate)

Driving test is 6/12 (can read at 6 units distance what the average person can read at 12 units). At 70 nearly all are well within this.

5% of people have acuity worse than 6/12

Pathological eye conditions

Cataracts, retina damage from glucoma, strokes. These are conditions that can make driving dangerous.

Dementia and PreDementia

These are the cause of dangerous driving.

In a limited test of certain manoeuvres 1998 showed 68% of dementia affected drivers, 25% of normal elderly drivers and 3% of young drivers made hazardous errors.

Simulation Tests

In a 2012 study elderly drivers faired poorly on reaction tests, specific sight tests but in actual driving simulation were better than some younger drivers. They drove slower and so were able to cope with hazards better.

 

Conclusion

Older drivers need specific tests for pathological eye problems and dementia.

These ones need to be persuaded to stop driving.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
1 like

Excellent - and obviously the kind of reasoned, data-backed proposal which has no place here.

Avatar
Jimmy Ray Will | 1 year ago
0 likes

As already mentioned, the amount of accidents appropriated to 80+ year old drivers is probably a very low percentage of all accidents recorded. As cyclists this is a hot subject as we are directly in the firing line of this particular threat, but from a general societal level, re-testing the olden oldies is probably hard to justify.

What makes more sense is regular retesting of all motorists. 

Thinking about this, I'd say 'assessment' rather than tests. Every five years, people would need to give up a morning to have a classroom session, followed by a practical driving assessment / lesson.

The assessor would watch and assess, but also advise and direct... more like an extended lesson. The assessor would have the power to sieze a licence if someone was too far below the standard, but otherwise it would either be an 'as you are' and on your way, or be directed to undertake an additional course / courses based on observations made.

The assessment could be funded by a contribution made as part of road tax, following uptraining by the motorist. 

Avatar
mattw replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 1 year ago
0 likes

Retesting and CPD needs to be for all drivers, but with differing frequencies.

10 years up to 60, then 5 years to 70, then 3 years.

With independent medical checks.

Avatar
LeadenSkies replied to mattw | 1 year ago
3 likes

Addressing poor driving standards requires every driver to undergo refresher training periodically and that should not vary with age. A 25/50/80 year old driver with poor attitude / skills presents exactly the same risk to those around them. A requirement to undertake short sessions on the latest Highway Code, on hazard perception and the advantages and limitations of current car technology followed by a short practical assessment of driving should be the minimum requirement and every 5 years at most. It also requires better enforcement. Where I would be in favour of more frequent refresher training would be if it was related to risk - clean licence = 5 yearly, 3 points = 3 yearly, 6 points = 18 monthly, 9 points = 6 monthly etc.

Medical checks on drivers are another matter and a better way must be found to enforce minimum eyesight standards. Make it a requirement for a positive declaration by an optician that you meet the standard and make this a regular process throughout life so it isn't just something that kicks in at 70. Why is a driving licence treated so differently? What other dangerous machinery can you pass a test for, get a licence and that licence still be valid potentially 75 years later with no refresher training, no requirement to keep a log of use of that skill and only minimal medical checks.

Avatar
mikewood replied to LeadenSkies | 1 year ago
1 like

You could also introduce something that allowed earlier points removal with further training and testing. Would all need a huge increase in very skilled instructors and examiners though and raised standards.

Also we should be looking at introducing more testing for "professional drivers" ie, someone who is paid to drive a vehicle. I'm thinking taxi drivers (yet to be driven by one that I would consider wouldn't improve by having their driving critiqued. More throttle blips than Senna for the last one!), Delivery drivers (I've worked for Waitrose and their drivers are assessed on a very regular basis against very high standards) and other light commercial drivers like tax avoiding pickup drivers who don't know their speed limits aren't the same as cars!

Next should be Company car drivers, ie those claiming mileage as they are also driving as part of their job and their employers could be held liable for their sub-standard driving skills.

All of the above would be funded by someone's employment so largely free or tax deductable for the driver.

Finally we get to the "average driver" which in my experience are what I would call Lowest Common Denominator drivers ie, they once passed a very straightforward test some time ago and nobody has told them that they need to think more about how they drive. Typically these drivers will react badly when this is pointed out by another motorist or God forbid, someone atop a cycle or even worse, someone no longer atop a cycle.

Current membership and the assessment that comes with it of an accredited body such the IAM should obviate anyone of the assessments above as that shows you care about how you drive and don't think you can't improve.

Avatar
grumpyoldcyclist | 7 years ago
5 likes

No, we need regular retesting for ALL drivers. The thoughts behind this are the same as those put forward by others, it was the attitude of the driver that was the issue here. He was aware of the eyesight problem, same as a lot of drivers are aware of excess speed, passing too close, use of mobile device etc etc etc. It's the attitude that surrounds the 'right' to drive that's the problem, as we all believe we are perfect drivers. Now I'm not suggesting that drivers would be silly enough to text whilst on a retest, but a simple fail on other issues would bring a lot of drivers back to reality.

Perhaps we should start a petition?

Avatar
Awavey replied to grumpyoldcyclist | 7 years ago
2 likes
grumpyoldcyclist wrote:

No, we need regular retesting for ALL drivers. The thoughts behind this are the same as those put forward by others, it was the attitude of the driver that was the issue here. He was aware of the eyesight problem, same as a lot of drivers are aware of excess speed, passing too close, use of mobile device etc etc etc. It's the attitude that surrounds the 'right' to drive that's the problem, as we all believe we are perfect drivers. Now I'm not suggesting that drivers would be silly enough to text whilst on a retest, but a simple fail on other issues would bring a lot of drivers back to reality.

unless you are talking about retesting everytime someone gets behind the wheel of a car, how would it help ? the guy I saw in a car on the commute home today, swapping lanes every 5 metres to overtake or undertake cars just to get that little extra bit ahead in a traffic queue, and then turned right at a roundabout from the left hand lane...and then wondered why someone drove into him...I guarantee would not drive like that in a driving test, so he passes, and then gets to spend the rest of his time driving round like an accident waiting to happen impatient idiot again, till his next test.

or say he fails on a simple thing in his test, do you think he'd care ? do you think the estimated 1-1.5 million currently unlicenced drivers on UK roads are remotely bothered by not having a licence, or car tax, or valid insurance, or an MOT ?

retesting sounds like a good idea,but wont actually work unless you can force those that fail off the road

Avatar
RGN007 replied to Awavey | 1 year ago
0 likes

I don't agree with being taken off the road if fail on one occasion as good drivers make mistakes and bad drivers can pass. I think a course instead of points as a starter. A GP I worked for should have lost his license, an Audi driver, but he couldn't do his job. The scare slowed him down.

I once carved across, misjudged a car I had overtaken because I was driving my partner to A&E in agony. I'm normally praised for being a good driver and thankfully no damage and understanding other driver when he saw the situation. I also couldn't do my nursing job without driving.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to RGN007 | 1 year ago
1 like

It's an imperfect world.  Some here have proposed a "continuous monitoring" of some kind (e.g. like a minority of insurance companies do now).  Would that be fairer - or just "the spy in the car"?

We also seem to be handing out "warnings" and "words of advice" and even courses already.

Merely doing what we say we do (e.g. enforcing the law) would be a start.  However if we really want less death on the roads (or maybe even nicer places and better transport systems) that's not going to happen by more law, training or otherwise hoping for better people.  Given the numbers crashing into bollards, bridges and buildings I think we need to have a rethink.  A system which facilitates a large proportion of the population driving vehicles really isn't a good idea (lots of other reasons as well as safety).  We're a danger to ourselves and each other!

Avatar
mattw replied to RGN007 | 1 year ago
0 likes

The way to deal witrh that one is an opportunity to repeat the test.

The standard system now for elderly or medical licenses is that you get an automatic notifocation 3 months in advance, so the time can be managed with appropriate measures.

Avatar
jh2727 replied to RGN007 | 1 year ago
0 likes
RGN007 wrote:

I don't agree with being taken off the road if fail on one occasion as good drivers make mistakes and bad drivers can pass. I think a course instead of points as a starter. A GP I worked for should have lost his license, an Audi driver, but he couldn't do his job. The scare slowed him down. I once carved across, misjudged a car I had overtaken because I was driving my partner to A&E in agony. I'm normally praised for being a good driver and thankfully no damage and understanding other driver when he saw the situation. I also couldn't do my nursing job without driving.

I'm curious to know why a GP cannot work without a car - or a nurse for that matter, there is district nurse in my area who gets around quite happily on an e-bike.

Avatar
Jimmy Ray Will replied to Awavey | 1 year ago
0 likes

I think it would definitely help. It would weed out those whose skills are far below the necessary level (who are also just as prone to drive like idiots, probably even more so), and moreover, it would send the message that driving is taken seriously and drivers are expected to maintain a certain standard.

There is a bit of a joke in sales recruitment, that sales people can be a nightmare to interview due to their ability to bullsh1t. However, the thinking is, if you interview them three times, and they've not tripped over their own crap in that time, then they are probably a safe hire. 

The same stands for driving tests... the fact that a chap/chappess can 'turn it on' come test day, means that they can fundamentally drive. When they are taking the 'P' on other occasions, at least you would know they were doing so from a base of basic competence. 

Avatar
Batchy | 7 years ago
0 likes

So just how many people have been killed or injured by 80 year olds with dodgey eyesight / health problems during the last 10 years and what is this as a percentage of the overall roadkill total ? I hazard to guess that the figures are not worth the extra expense and effort required to implement multiple re testing.

Incidentally I am 66 and it would not bother me personally if I had to be retested but what about the dodering old gits that  cycle regardless of health and eyesight problems !

Avatar
mattw replied to Batchy | 1 year ago
2 likes

> what about the dodering old gits that  cycle regardless of health and eyesight problems !

What about them? 10 or 100 times less important as 'what about cyclists' always is. They will tend to kill themselves not others.

>just how many people have been killed or injured by 80 year olds with dodgey eyesight / health problems during the last 10 years and what is this as a percentage of the overall roadkill total ? 

On how many are killed or injured by doddery old drivers - it's a very regular occurrence. Just monitor the reports. The % of the total is a bit of a red herring imo.

Here's one from a recent Ashley Neal video, 83 year old driver who could not read a numberplate at 9m. License immediately revoked. Did not reach the court for a ban because it was adjourned for health reasons of the driver.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-uhomvf2Lo

The driver broke the cyclists pelvis in 4 places, and left him on crutches for 3 months.

Avatar
wtjs replied to mattw | 1 year ago
1 like

what about the dodering old gits that  cycle regardless of health and eyesight problems !

What about them? I agree- this is a non-existent hazard if ever I heard one. There aren't any in Lancashire, as there aren't many cyclists around at all- for obvious safety reasons linked numerically to non-doddery Audi/ BMW type aggressive drivers- these are the real hazards I encounter: close passes at speed in 30-limit areas, staying in my lane because of oncoming traffic. BMW BU21 FGM

Avatar
Condor Andy | 7 years ago
2 likes

Every driver should have to be retested every 10 years for the under 65s and every 5 years for the over 65s and there absolutely should be medical questions asked at all tests particularly relating to eyesight.

As Kim says earlier, driving is not a right, but a privilege.

Avatar
RGN007 replied to Condor Andy | 1 year ago
0 likes

That sounds more sensible, but if someone's job depends on a minor single fail it seems too harsh. Needs something in between.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to RGN007 | 1 year ago
2 likes

I think you're begging the question there... why "a single minor fail"  - who said that?

Unfortunately where we are is it's de-facto legal to break the law as written if you're a driver.  Doing things with potentially lethal consequences.  Some has been actually decriminalised (driving on the pavement - to park), decriminalised except in certain places (speeding - unless you're unlucky), much is not seen as "socially unacceptable" and you're generally extremely unlikely to be caught.  And if caught you may get you no penalty or a pretty meaningless one ("We'll write you a letter...").

It's clear that those simply calling for the law as it actually is written now to be effectively enforced and for the standard penalties imposed where due are actually calling for a pretty radical social change.  Given where we are.

So then I am an extremist.  I'm not feeling sympathetic for the odd excellent medical workers who only occasionally maim people in their cars.  Or the "upstanding pillars of the community" who somehow seem to be deliberately running others over - unaccountably?  Or those who - tragically - have children or parents or partners or pets or indeed jobs that would (might) suffer if we stopped them doing a dangerous activity because they've shown they cannot do it safely.

But I'm also a dreamer.  I'd rather this was a much less emotive issue for all because we had a system which prioritised the safe movement of people rather than motor vehicles.  With safe and convenient alternatives - actually a more democratic independant mobility for all.

In fact - without that I can't see any change happening at all.

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
4 likes

"It's clear that those simply calling for the law as it actually is written now to be effectively enforced and for the standard penalties imposed where due are actually calling for a pretty radical social change. "

I think I agree entirely with this statement, and still I find it shocking to be written as boldly as that.

And yet the UK comes very low on this list https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death... with only Norway, Switzerland and Sweden looking safer

So it seems that what we have is reasonable infrastructure, and some very good driving rules and testing. But very little appetite for taking action to remove the relatively few bad drivers.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
1 like

As I've bleated on in the last days a large part of the reason for our "safe roads" is because we've essentially driven everyone not in a car off them.

(This also explains why those killed on the roads - or indeed pavements - get such short shrift.  They shouldn't have been there.  Or it was a freak accident.  Or one of those very rare criminals on the road.  Because driving is an everyday activity and our roads are safe!)

This is largely by "self-enforcement" - if you have roads with lots of motor vehicles and especially fast ones people naturally avoid those spaces.  We sense they're unpleasant and understand "this isn't our space" even without the training which we get as children.

However we've also made rules and motor vehicle infra - pedestrian crossings, pedestrian barriers, underpasses and overpasses ("a concrete trench in the sky") - to get people out of the way of cars.  (Really - if safety was the main concern we'd bury the cars, make them go up over the bridges or take the less direct route).

Finally we have then made it safer for those in cars.  The car manufacturers have done their bit for their customers (inside their cars - not necessarily to the benefit of those outside - think A-pillars).  We've added traffic lights, lane markings, rumble strips, cats eyes, energy-absorbing crash barriers etc.  We could probably go further though if we were really focussed on safety rather than motor vehicle flow or just appeasing drivers.  Removing a lot of overtaking would help - as would lowering speeds!

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
0 likes

I'm not 100% that our driving rules and especially testing are brilliant.  We should be regularly re-testing, like every other licenced dangerous activity I can think of.

There's certainly very little in the way of feedback for people falling below the standard* or breaking the rules.  Indeed some rules have been declared decriminalised (driving on pavement) or are known to be little-enforced (speeding in many cases).

I don't know if the concept of "anyone and everyone can drive a car" has ever been planned by government or standards adjusted to match but that seems to be the effect.  The overall pass rate hovers at about 50%.  However it seems that lots fail on the first test but are much more likely to pass on subsequent tests.  I can't find the numbers here but that seems to be the wisdom.

Irrespective of this practice makes habit and there seems little incentive for drivers to maintain good practice over time, as driving becomes a mundane daily activity.

* Lots of this due to infra helping - which I certainly approve of.  This is the "forgivingness" principle of sustainable safety.

Avatar
LeadenSkies replied to wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
0 likes

The UK does ok but could do much better and as always figures should be taken with a pinch of salt. There will be a few other factors that have nothing to do with vehicles or vehicle infrastructure that influence those figures. For example healthcare and geography will have an impact as will the provision of organised rescue services I suspect. If you are seriously injured in a RTC then the faster you can get to a well equipped trauma care centre, the better your chances. Minimising that time until you receive definitive clinical intervention and care will depend on having well trained rescue and medical staff to extract you from the vehicle and treat you on scene, provision of well equipped trauma centres, and geography - the further that trauma centre is or the longer it takes to get there, the worse the outcome. It may also be influenced by societal knowledge of basic life support and first aid. The provision of simple intervention such as stemming bleeding, maintaining an airway and CPR can save lives. The list goes on.

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to RGN007 | 1 year ago
2 likes
RGN007 wrote:

That sounds more sensible, but if someone's job depends on a minor single fail it seems too harsh. Needs something in between.

a single minor fault is not a drving test fail

"In your driving test you can receive 15 minors and still pass, only a major or three of the same minor will result in a fail. There are several driving test minor faults - however, you should try to avoid them to give yourself the best chance of passing."

https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/learning-to-drive/what-is-a-driving-t...

Avatar
jollygoodvelo | 7 years ago
0 likes

Ultimately the reason politicians haven't been near this is because the number of accidents caused is relatively few, cars are important to older folk to preserve mobility etc, and older people get out and vote so no party wants to annoy them.

 

But it's a balance - balancing the rights of people to drive around and not rely on lifts/transport/etc against the rights of innocent cyclists (and pedestrians) to not be mown down by blind old fogies.

Avatar
ironmancole | 7 years ago
1 like

Denied the charge of death by dangerous and instrad took the offensively titled death by careless.

So, if I get in my car right now with a scarf over my face limiting my view and drive about until I kill someone that's not dangerous, it's a whoops, silly me type situation?!

This dangerous/careless cop out has to stop. Someone got killed, that to me was clearly a dangerous event bought about solely by the actions of the driver.

Avatar
ironmancole | 7 years ago
0 likes

The forklift truck example is a good one. Thing is the health and safety executive looks after the workplace but the roads are looked after, for all intensive purposes, by no one.

If we were to see such a body paying attention to our roads in the same way we look after the workplace perhaps safety and the removal of thise who refuse to give consideration to others would rapidly improve.

Also very interesting that a court took his licence permanently, guarantee someone younger who killed in the exact same circumstance would have received a brief ban at most for using the same 'didn't see them' excuse.

Given consequence of bad driving is the same irrespective of how old the driver is are we seeing ageism by the courts?

I can't recall the last time a court made permanent revocation of license for someone younger so why the difference here? 

Avatar
Stumps | 7 years ago
0 likes

Yes when people get older parts start to wear out but it's not just old people who suffer with bad eyesight, hearing or mobility so retesting everyone is the answer imho.

Avatar
atgni | 7 years ago
1 like

The Photocard needs renewing every 10 years - everybody should at least have to re-sit the theory test within that period to have it renewed.

Avatar
Jacobi | 7 years ago
1 like

Medically test everyone. It should be mandatory that everyone holding a driving licence has to undergo a thorough medical examination every five years to prove they are fit to drive. Fail the medical and the licence is revoked.

Pages

Latest Comments