Friday, 18 January 2019

Elderly Driver Involved in Prang

The top story on BBC News at the moment is about Trump accusing someone else of lying when they said he instructed a lawyer to lie on his behalf. Not so much fake news as old news. (And how can he remember anyway?)

So instead, I'm looking at the next story down, about Prince Philip being involved in a car accident. The dent in his car is noticeable, and the story says his car rolled, both of which suggest he was the hittee rather than the hitter. Someone in the other car has a broken wrist, but otherwise all the personal injuries were in the nature of scrapes and cuts. Apparently he has said the sun dazzled him. A common problem in this country, as it's such a rarity that we don't generally wear sunglasses to drive.

Why, therefore, promote the story so heavily? A minor obsession with the Royal Family is the only reason I can think for it, unless there is a campaign about to be launched to restrict the issuing of driving licences to the elderly.

The local council were already debating reducing the speed limit on that road, which may or may not be a good thing. There are plenty of roads round here that have a limit of 40 or 50 which everyone exceeds because the roads are straight and wide with good visibility. I'm all in favour of keeping speed limits down in villages (and not *just* because I live in one), and particularly near schools. In the US, many places double speeding fines near schools at the beginning and end of the school day - not necessary in this village, as the parked cars on the school run provide a complex chicane that can only be negotiated at about 15 mph on a good day.

The issue of elderly drivers is also one that crops up in the news whenever an elderly person is involved in an accident, particularly when driving the wrong way on the motorway. But to suggest that therefore all elderly drivers over, say, 70 should have their licences taken away is ridiculous. For a start, in our village, the bus service is relatively good but is still only hourly and finishes by 7pm. In Spain, once a driver reaches the age of 70, they have to take a virtual-reality test every couple of years, not just an eyesight test, but something on a computer that tests reaction times and hand-eye coordination.

Doing something to prevent accidents for the rising number of drivers over 70 can only be a good thing - and not just because we can't all afford a new car the next day or a chauffeur.

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