Ben Brooks-Dutton, whose wife Desreen was killed by an elderly driver who mistook the accelerator for the brake, has started a popular online petition calling for over-70s to be retested every three years.
The couple were walking home from a friend’s house with their son when a car mounted the pavement and struck Desreen. The car was driven by 85-year-old Geoffrey Lederman, who was sentenced to 18 months in jail for causing death by dangerous driving, a sentence that was later reduced to 12 months on appeal.
Brooks-Dutton, who chronicled life after his wife’s death on a blog, also started a petition on Change.org 6 days ago, calling for compulsory testing of drivers every three years once they reach age 70. It now has about 140,000 signatures. At the moment, drivers over 70 in the UK must fill in a self-assessment form every three years to renew their licences. The form doesn’t include a medical or driving test. Several commenters said they were elderly drivers who agreed with the proposal. However, few disagreed with the idea calling it ‘ageist’ and that it spreads ‘hate and stereotypes’.
Though data shows drivers under the age of 20 have more fatal accidents than drivers over 75, there is some evidence to suggest drivers over the age of 80 are at an increased risk of accidents. In 2013, DfT said that it had no plans to restrict licensing on the basis of age. A spokesman said ‘age alone is not a reliable indicator of a person’s fitness to drive and the vast majority of older people continue to drive safely.