Call for compulsory driving tests at 70 after young mother mown down

Laura Donnelly
Ben Brooks-Dutton is campaigning for a change in the law after the death of his wife Desreen - Central 

The husband of a young mother mown down by a pensioner says pensioners over 70 should face compulsory driving tests as a petition for a change in the law reaches 250,000 signatures.

Ben Brooks-Dutton’s wife Desreen died in 2012 after Geoffery Lederman, 83, came close to wiping out the whole family after mounting the pavement at 50mph.

The pensioner accelerated when he meant to brake, cliping the toddler's pushchair before ploughing into the 33-year-old mother and a female student who suffered brain damage and lost an eye.

Mr Brooks-Dutton is now campaigning for a change in the law, with a petition which has now passed the threshold for consideration by parliament.

He said too many elderly drivers are putting the public at risk by a system which fails to take account of the fact “a car is a powerful weapon”. Currently, drivers are asked to renew their licence every three years after the age of 70, vouching for their ability to drive.

Mr Brooks Dutton said: “I think there needs to be some sort of test to check that we are well enough to drive.

“No one wants to take someone’s life  - no one wants that hanging over them for the rest of their life but a car is a powerful weapon.”

Neil Greig, director of policy and research for IAM RoadSmart, formerly the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said he did not want to see the introduction of mandatory tests.

“If you look at the accident statistics 70-year-olds are actually just as safe as 50 or 60-year-old middle aged drivers. If you are going to re-test anybody based on their road safety record, it would be new drivers, two years after passing their test,” he told R4’s Today programme.

However, he called for the introduction of eyesight tests at the age of 75, as a “half way house” to improve regulation of older drivers.

“There is going to be a huge increase in the number of older drivers on our roads, three times as many drivers over the age of 70 in the next 10 years,” he said. “We are unprepared for that.”

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