There have recently been two distressing cases in London of elderly drivers killing other road users because they had pressed the accelerator instead of the brake. As usual, we then find that the courts’ sympathies were with the motorists, not with the victims’ families and friends.
These courts continue to define killing another human being in a road collision as being mere carelessness. And although you can be sentenced to several years in prison as well as receiving a driving ban, such punishments are rarely imposed with their full force.
Should elderly drivers who have killed someone be sent to prison? We might feel sorry for an aged motorist but what if he or she shows no remorse and offers no apologies to those bereaved or injured? Such questions won’t go away, especially as the number of elderly drivers on Britain’s roads is set to climb to over 15 million by the year 2030.
Although there is no legal age when pensioners should stop driving, licences need to be renewed every three years after the age of 70. There is also a requirement for the DVLA to be informed if an elderly person has a medical condition such as dementia, deafness or poor eyesight that might affect his or her driving skills.
Ageing motorists caught speeding or breaking other traffic laws ought to be sent on training courses to check that they are still safe when behind the wheel. There should also be mandatory tests to ensure that drivers’ ages and states of health are not impairing their abilities.