Slow can be a fast way to an accident
Date: 12th Friday, April, 2019
Prince Phillip’s little motoring mishap has thrown light on the risk some elderly drivers can pose on our busy roads. Whilst his actions thankfully resulted in no major harm done, the fact remains that reaching our senior years, whether we like it or not, can have a detrimental effect on driving performance. One such outcome is being more cautious and driving too slowly – in some cases well below the speed limit. This behaviour is not confined to this social group, but it is certainly well represented. The sobering reality is that as a result people are being injured and, in some cases, killed. According to a 2017 Department of Transport report, 175 people (31% increase on the previous year) were injured and two died as a result of people driving too slowly for the conditions.
In 2018, DVLA recorded 265 drivers over the age of 100 holding a license; the oldest of whom was 104. As the law stands, from the age of 70 a person must self-certify that they are fit to drive every three years. No further tests or medical examinations are required. On the one hand, it is positive that people have the freedom and motivation in their later years to remain mobile and independent, on the other, slow driving habits can lead to other drivers becoming frustrated and taking risky overtaking procedures.
In some circumstances, slow driving can be categorised as careless driving, attracting penalty points. If the offense goes to court it could include a fine of up to £5,000, nine penalty points or even disqualification.
Of course, nobody wants situations to reach that point – a more sensible approach to safety is preferable. With the advent of driverless cars soon to become commonplace on our streets and motorways, the problem may simply disappear. Until then, perhaps the self-assessment process needs a little help to ensure that common sense prevails.
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