In the Headlines

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77 YEAR OLD DEATH CRASH:  Though not in Kent, currently reported in the press the case of a 77 year old Coventry bus driver, working for a national company, who ploughed into a supermarket killing a 7 year old boy and grandmother three years ago. A ‘trial of evidence’ has now taken place in the absence of the driver who had been judged unfit with a diagnosis of dementia to stand trial.

It transpires he had received around 24 warning letters about his driving, there was concern raised by an undercover inspector who said his driving did not meet initial training standards, 4 previous accidents in recent years plus working excessive hours prior to the accident.  The bus company have pleaded guilty to Health and Safety offences.  A sad case by all standards, and shows that ‘self-regulation’ as to fitness to drive has failed, maybe friends / family were not aware or could not intervene, ‘statutory regulation’ and common sense appeared to have failed on the part of the Company.

Comment: This case is one of many high profile cases involving senior drivers that demonstrates vigilance and action is needed by all. No doubt there are many more lesser but nevertheless serious incidents – where age and declining health and ability may be salient factors. There has to be a balance between safety of all road users, drivers or pedestrians and equally important an individual’s independence and mobility.

EYESIGHT – Driver Aged 87 Driving Wrong Way on A3:  Currently DVSA have an eyesight campaign focused on the requirement for drivers to be able to read a number plate at 20 metres; GEM Motoring Assist through their charitable arm ‘Still Safe to Drive’ have organised a petition calling for much stricter eyesight rules for drivers. Three police forces are implementing eyesight checks for all drivers stopped. All of these initiatives stem from growing concerns from incidents occurring with drivers subsequently found to have deficient eyesight for driving.

One recently reported case study featured an 87 year driver driving the wrong way on the A3 causing a police car to take evasive action – in the roadside test the drivers eyesight proved to be well under half of the minimum required standard. The question also arises around mobility scooter users who routinely use public roads but are not subject to any regulations, assessment, health checks including no licensing or compulsory insurance.

CASE STUDY – MOBILITY SCOOTERS: On holiday recently in Yorkshire the regional TV news program Look North featured an editorial about a mobility scooter accident.  An 85 year old lady appearing otherwise as a very fit and healthy lady had been hit by a mobility scooter whilst walking on the pavement suffering leg trauma albeit no broken bones. She had now been immobile since, been treated at hospital a further four times and now has a leg infection; because of her age and an older body’s healing process her chances of full recovery are probably no better than 50/50.

The mobility scooter rider was uninsured and as a result of this there is the probability of a civil claim and the added trauma for all it will bring. Interestingly the editorial went on to show clips of a South Yorkshire Police mobility scooter training initiative run in conjunction with a local mobility scooter retailer.
Comment; with estimated sales of mobility scooters of 80,000 units per year there has and continues to be considerable concern regarding accidents, inappropriate and dangerous use, and lack of regulation.