Friday, 18 January 2013

Eastgate tragedy: Improving road safety statistics

Yesterday morning in Transport Questions I raised the tragic case of Mrs Carol Hinett, a constituent who’s 29 year old daughter Jackie and 18 month old grandson Jayden were both tragically killed when an 89 year old driver had a heart attack at the wheel of his car and mounted the pavement.

The law currently states that drivers over 70 have to renew their licence every three years, and must inform the DVLA about any health issues that may affect their driving.

Data on accidents is collected by deciles, split into every 10 years from 17 to 90. However data for the deciles 70years and 80 years are combined into a 20 year category instead of 10. In my opinion there is a big difference between being 70 and being 89 and it hinders any driver-accident assessment combining the age –accident data into a 20 year grouping.

In Transport Questions I asked whether the Government would consider at least creating a new classification bracket for accident statistics collection separating those 70 years to 79 years an those aged 80 years to 89 years. Policies relating to driver risk must always be based on the accurate evidence.

As people live longer and the population in general ages this issue will become more pertinent as people live longer and the over 70s bracket becomes an ever larger proportion of people on the road.

In his response to my question the Minister made two points; that the experience of the driver is more important than the age, and I am sure that this is the case in the vast majority of cases. However, Mr Wray died of a heart attack at the wheel of his car aged 89 – in this instance his experience is completely irrelevant, and his age is what matters. He also stated that he would be reviewing the matter, and I will be following up the exchange with a letter to make sure that the Department of Transport takes this matter seriously.