RE-TEST THE OVER-70s!
But enthusiasts insist that it could be disastrous for classic scene
‘Compulsory retesting would put many safe drivers off for no real benefit’ NEIL GREIG, IAMROADSMART
Mandatory re-testing of drivers every three years after the age of 70 could have catastrophic effects on the hobby, say classic clubs.
Calls for re-testing are gaining momentum, as the husband of a woman who was killed by an octogenarian driving a classic car has created a petition calling for the Government to introduce compulsory age-appropriate retesting every three years once a driver turns 70.
Ben Brooks-Dutton set up the online petition after his wife Desreen died in 2012. Geoffrey Lederman (now 85), who was driving a 1982 Mercedes-Benz 380SL, and described by witnesses as ‘screaming’ along West End Lane in West Hampstead, north London, mounted the pavement at 50mph, killing Desreen instantly.
Blackfriars Crown Court heard that the pensioner accelerated when he meant to brake, killing Desreen and leaving an American student with brain damage.
By their very nature, classic clubs have members who are older than the general population. One example is the Model A Club of Great Britain, whose members’ average age is more than 67.
Vice chairman Bob Wilkinson says: ‘Most of our club members would have no physical problems taking the test every three years. But at the same time our club, among others, would be decimated, as would many thriving businesses like restoration work shops and storage facilities. There are also worries about whether it would affect classic insurance policies.
‘I’m 76 and perfectly healthy, but this subject comes up a great deal. To impose an arbitrary age at which to get re-tested is silly.’
James Blackwell, assistant general manager of the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club, adds: ‘Our members above 70 are generally sensible, and if they felt they were impeded in driving they’d give themselves up.’
Director of policy and research for IAMRoadSmart (previously the Institute of Advanced Motorists), Neil Greig says: ‘It would be unfair to say that all drivers aged 70 and above are unsafe. As a group, older drivers are among the safest on the road. The vast majority know their limits and ultimately make the right decision on when to give up. Compulsory retesting would put many safe drivers off, would be costly for no real benefit and could lead to loneliness and isolation.’
At the time of writing, the petition has received 250,151 signatures. The petition will be delivered to Chris Grayling MP, secretary of state for transport if the petition reaches 300,000 signatures.
Ben Brooks-Dutton, who started the petition, says: ‘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.
‘Despite this, some officials are recommending that in order to save costs, people shouldn’t have to renew their driving licence until they are 80.
‘I know the human cost of unfit drivers on the road and I never want anyone to go through a tragedy like the one that has decimated my family.’
Proposed retests for older drivers has received a cool reaction from UK clubs.