FREE driver assessments from the island’s advanced motorists as well as certified courses could be one stategy to help improve driving skills.
This was the message from the Isle of Man Institute of Advanced Motorists’ chairman Chris Roughley in response to calls to test elderly drivers.
‘Campaigns to promote road safety are an ongoing activity on the Isle of Man,’ he said.
He added the island’s advanced motorists offered both free driver assessments and certified driver improvement courses.
The debate arose following the inquest into the death of Doug Spencer, after an accident in which an 85-year-old driver turned across his path last year.
Mr Spencer’s sister Becky has launched an on-line petition which is also available to sign in the Co-op and Queen’s pub, both in Laxey. This has so-far attracted 400 signatures.
The petition calls for testing of elderly drivers and a year-round government awareness campaign.
Mr Roughley said he was saddened to read of Mr Spencer’s death, adding: ‘Like many similar accidents it could probably have been avoided.’
But he said campaigns such as Mountainsafe were frequently run by police and the government’s road safety unit in conjunction with the fire brigade and advanced motorists.
‘Derek Flint and the Roads Policing Unit work very hard to promote road safety to the island’s drivers, with a degree of success which deserves to be applauded,’ he said.
But he agreed the question of aged drivers was contentious: ‘In the UK there are four million drivers aged over 70 and this is set to increase by up to 49 per cent by 2032.
‘The Institute of Advanced Motorists did commission research with the Transport Research Laboratory which was called Holding Back the Gears – the ageing process and driver safety,
‘The findings at www.iam.org.uk make interesting reading,’ he said.
AA president Edmund King said old people often drove more safely than younger motorists and were generally self-policing, choosing to avoid traffic, night time driving and going more slowly.
‘However we think sometimes GPs and families could do more by telling drivers if they are not fit and reporting them to the DVLA. Quite often that is not done,’ he said.
‘For many elderly drivers it gets them out of the house and gives them independence.’
He suggested anyone concerned about their driving should book an assessment session with an instructor.
The Times has reported Department of Transport statistics showing drivers over 80 have more accidents per mile than any other age group.
Manx driving licences are renewed every 10 years and every three after the age of 72. Drivers are obliged to disclose any medical or eyesight impairment. The system relies on drivers’ honesty and no changes are planned.
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