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Make eye tests compulsory for older drivers, urges daughter of cyclist killed in crash

Currently, drivers over 70 self-declare that their eyesight meets minimum standards for driving

The daughter of a Hampshire cyclist killed by a motorist whom it was revealed could only see three metres in front of himself has called for the law to be changed to make if compulsory for motorists over the age of 70 to have their eyesight tested when applying to renew their driving licence.

Peter Gardner, aged 82, was jailed for six months at Salisbury Crown Court after pleading guilty to causing the death by careless driving of 70-year-old cyclist Jim Tassell, who sustained a fatal head injury when the motorist crashed into the back of him on a country road in Andover on 23 July last year.

> Driver who killed cyclist could not read number plate three metres away

The court was told that Gardner could read a registration plate when it was  three metres ahead of him, instead of the 20 metres required by law and Mr Tassell’s daughter, Emma Damen, is now calling for the law to be changed, reports Wales Online.

“Angry doesn’t even describe how I feel,” Mrs Damen said. “If you know your eyesight is that poor, how can you be so arrogant and selfish to just get in the car anyway?

“Without a doubt, my dad would have lived well into his 90s, if it wasn't for his selfish decision to get in that car.”

Currently, driving licences automatically expire when the holder reaches their 70th birthday.

They then need to be renewed every three years, with the holder being asked to complete a medical declaration and confirm that their eyesight meets the standards required for driving, with more details available on the website Older Drivers.

Calling on the law to be changed, Mrs Damen said: “All I am asking is that when you get to 70 and renew your licence, you should have an eyesight test.

“There needs to also be an onus on doctors and opticians to inform the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) when someone’s health or eyesight deteriorates to the point that they are not fit to decide.

“My dad's death should never have happened and more people will die if we do not see change.

“How many more people have to die before the government will say ‘enough is enough; and put a new law in place?”

Mr Tassell, a retired accountant, was taken to hospital by emergency medical helicopter. He was put in an induced coma, with his life support machine switched off five days after the crash, and some of his organs were donated to help others.

Now, his daughter plans to take part in the Great South Run with her husband Glenn and brother Ben to raise money for the Hampshire & Isle of White Air Ambulance.

On her page on Just Giving, she wrote: “Ben, Glenn and I are running the Great South run in memory of Dad to raise as much as we can for the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance.

“They did everything they could to save Dad, although we didn’t get the outcome we so desperately wanted without them Dad would not have been able to donate his organs and save and change the lives of others.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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bobbinogs | 1 year ago

The problem, as always, is one of enforcement...and the need for self-enforcement as the better approach.  There has been a requirement to meet a certain standard for sight for some time now...but I know of many who should, but prefer not to wear glasses as they seem to be utterly unable to link poor sight with the ablity to drive well.  I guess it was the same years ago when having a few pints and then getting behind the wheel was just seen as normal.  Having certain tests for various groups of people does didly squat if drivers then just ignore the results as the chances of being tested for sight at the side of the road are pretty much zero.

steaders1 | 1 year ago

Make everyone take a driving test when they reach pension age but make everyone take a theory test every five years. Most drivers admitted recently that they didn't even know the Highway Code had been changed

OldRidgeback replied to steaders1 | 1 year ago

A simple test would be sufficient to check someone's driving was still adequate, similar to the driver improvement courses offered to those caught  speeding. Eyesight and health checks should be included too. 

IanMSpencer replied to OldRidgeback | 1 year ago

I believe over 60 you get a free annual eye check (though I get confused as I don't remember signing a form last time).

The dilemma is if you make opticians responsible for reporting, people are reluctant to have their eyes checked, but if the default was suspension of licence unless you were signed off in possession of prescription that allowed you to see to the correct standard (with the appropriate punishments against lying professionals) then you'd solve that one, and it might work out cheaper as eye problems would be caught sooner with preventative checks.

Patrick9-32 | 1 year ago

Make regular re-tests mandatory for drivers of all ages. 

essexian replied to Patrick9-32 | 1 year ago
1 like

Indeed, everyone should be re-tested every five years and if you fail, then you should be placed on a ristricted licence (no night time driving/less than 100BHP car/max one person in the car with you etc etc) and given six months to retake and pass the test. Fail for a second time, then back to a provisional.

The 15th of this month, marks the 37th anniversary of when I passed my test. There have been countless changes to road laws since and indeed roads are so different now than they were then. Its madness I've not been tested again.

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