Let’s have three cheers and a quick spin of the Zimmer frame for Ms Justice Simler.
The High Court judge has decreed that age alone is not a reason to remove a person’s driving licence.
It is a decision for that rare quality known as commonsense. There has never been any understandable logic behind the restrictions imposed on drivers simply because of their age. It suggests that a person who is in the best of health and in possession of all necessary faculties suddenly, on a single day, becomes gaga, uncoordinated, hard of hearing and devoid of sight. By having a birthday they are determined as having lost all ability to control a moving vehicle.
Justice Simler’s landmark ruling reversed a decision by the UK’s Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to revoke the licence of a 78-year-old woman after a road accident for which she was held responsible. Without any supporting medical evidence, the DVLA had asserted that the woman had been rendered unfit to drive by “age-related cognitive impairment”.
The judge said the DVLA had acted solely on a basis of age – that the woman was an older driver. It had ignored clear medical evidence that the woman did not, in fact, suffer from cognitive impairment.
Licensing authorities are not alone in applying this inflexible age-based ruling. Car rental companies are equally restrictive. Until a certain date, I was able to hire a car and enjoy the freedom of self-drive mobility. The following day, I was confined to barracks as it were. It was as if my ability to drive had evaporated overnight.
Fortunately I found one company http://www.enterprise.co.uk/car_rental/home.do that has the sense and business acumen to go against the flow without fuss or question or excess charges.
There is no logic in such draconian age-based rules – especially when one regards the lack of driving ability daily displayed by those many years younger. Driving skills, road sense, reaction times and general awareness of other motorists are what need to be assessed rather than assuming there is a line in our lives beyond which we immediately become senile and decrepit.
At the moment I am fortunately in rude health and in possession of all my faculties. Many others several years (even decades) younger are less blessed. Yet they are the ones who have the freedom to drive without question or impost.
Here’s hoping Justice Simler’s decision will be more than “considered” by the DVLA (and rental companies) and that regulations affecting older driver – or at least attitudes – will change for the better.
Drive on …