The widow of a cyclist who was killed by a 93-year-old driver has called on the government to introduce mandatory annual testing for elderly drivers.
Simon Jones, aged 48, died from head and chest injuries sustained when he was hit by motorist James MacKie on Hawthorn Road, Littlehampton, West Sussex on 1 August 2019.
The driver, now aged 95, did not stop and continued his journey to a golf club, Lewes Crown Court was told.
The motorist, who failed to stop at the scene and continued his journey to a golf club, was found guilty by a jury at Lewes Crown Court last month of causing death by dangerous driving.
He was given a 12-month supervision order and banned from driving for four years, and will have to take an extended retest if he wants to get his driving licence back afterwards.
Currently, UK motorists aged 70 and above need to reapply for their licence to the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) every three years, but the system has been criticised because it relies on self-certification of their fitness to drive.
While medical professionals can advise someone to surrender their licence to the DVLA, they cannot compel them to do so.
That issue was highlighted in a case from Scotland last year involving an 84-year-old motorist who killed a cyclist despite twice being told to stop driving due to his failing eyesight.
Mr Jones’ widow, Linda, acknowledged that for many elderly people, being able to drive affords them independence, but said that had annual retests been in place, her husband would still be alive.
Speaking after the sentencing hearing, she said: “Simon was such a charming, warm and wonderful person who was well liked by everyone who knew him.
“He was an amazing husband and step-dad and grandad. We still can’t believe he is no longer part of our family.
“There’s not a day goes by where we don’t think of Simon and all the plans we should be making and memories we should be creating as a family.
“What makes it even harder to come to terms with is that his death was so unnecessary.
“While we know nothing will bring Simon back our family feel that, if any good can come out of this, it would be through the introduction of annual checks for elderly drivers.
“We appreciate that for many elderly people driving helps them maintain their independence and reduces social isolation, which is incredibly important.
“However, what’s more important is that they should be able to prove they are not a danger to the public so other families don’t have to suffer the heartache we have because of Simon’s death.
“We don’t want to label all elderly drivers as a danger but it’s vital other road users as well as the drivers themselves are protected.
“If the driver in this case had been tested we believe that Simon would still be with us.”
Mrs Jones and her family were represented by solicitors Irwin Mitchell.
Jessica Bowles, specialist road accident lawyer at the firm, said: “This is truly tragic case for all involved.
“The collision has had devastating ramifications for Linda and the rest of her family. Their lives have been turned upside down by the events that happened that day.
“We urge motorists to take care on the roads at all times so other families don’t have to experience the loss that Simon’s family have through no fault of their own.
“We will continue to support Linda and the rest of her family to help them try and come to terms with their loss the best they can,” she added.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.