A petition containing more than 700 names calling for tighter regulations governing elderly drivers has been handed in to government.
Becky Spencer, whose brother Doug was killed in an accident in February 2012, launched the petition earlier this year calling for compulsory eye tests and reaction tests before old people can renew their driving licences.
The petition was online and also available in hard copy at various venues around the island. She also wrote to politicians airing her concerns.
‘I was told the Department of Infrastructure would release a reminder regarding medical fitness to drive, which they did do and which I am very grateful for, but I still feel that we need appropriate checks put in place. I also still feel that we need some form of motorcycle awareness campaign during the winter months as residents are still using their motorcycles,’ she said.
‘The petition was handed in to the Chief Minister’s office last week with a total of 767 signatures. It has since been passed to the Chief Minister and Nick Black and I am now awaiting their response.’
A spokesman for the DOI said they had re-issued advice on medical fitness to drive and produced a guidance leaflet for drivers. That, and more information about fitness to drive can be found at www.gov.im/categories/travel,-traffic-and-motoring/drivers-and-vehicles/driving-licences/medical-fitness-to-drive/
Infrastructure Minister David Cretney said: ‘It is imperative that all drivers who have medical conditions provide an honest declaration when renewing their licence and also if a change in their medical condition arises.
‘Whilst this is a vital road safety issue, statistics do not support the contention that older drivers have more accidents than others and therefore the department does not plan to amend the requirements at this time.’
He added: ‘It is true that motorcyclists are more likely to be involved in road traffic incidents than other road users and that the risk injury is high. The risk on the island rises during the motorcycle festivals when many more motorcyclists use the island’s roads. This is why the department focuses its campaigns during these periods.’
However he said they were reviewing their road safety campaigns and deciding if any extra ones were needed.
Mike Dunn, vice chairman of the island’s advanced motorists said his personal view was elderly drivers in general were not a source of concern.
‘As far as I’m concerned driving and age are not really related. We have both young and old people who are very good drivers but I do think eye testing is crucial. I take an annual eye test but at 67 I’m still a senior observer for the IAM and I do have my driving checked.’
He added drivers in their 80s and 90s had completed training with the Isle of Man group and passed their advanced tests with the group.
‘Younger people may have faster reactions but you have to balance that against experience. Driving is not about fast reactions it’s about doing all the right things to reduce the risk.’