I often read “60 Starts at 60” because of its well-written articles raising issues of concern to the elderly.
This is a link to one article that has just recently arrested my attention:
It reports on a UK motor vehicle accident that has sparked an international call for elderly drivers to be taken off the roads.
The campaign to kick older drivers off the road has gone international after an 84-year-old woman was found guilty of causing an accident that forced a loving husband to run over and kill his wife.
The Sun reports that Jean Williams was driving in the UK, when she tried to overtake a tractor just before a sharp bend in the road.
Vanessa McAloon, 48, was riding her motorcycle in the oncoming lane, with her 52-year-old husband, Jim, on a separate motorcycle behind her. Vanessa was forced to slam her breaks to avoid being hit by Williams’ Vauxhall Corsa and was thrown from her bike. Jim, who was seconds behind her on his own motorcycle, accidentally struck his wife when he came around the bend.
Vanessa died of her injuries, and the incident was made even more tragic by the fact the couple were on a ride to celebrate her final round of chemotherapy to beat cancer.
Yet even from the limited details given in the article, I think it may be unfair to attribute all the blame for this tragic accident to 84 year old Jean Williams. We do not know for example whether the tractor driver was driving his slow-moving farm vehicle as far to the left as possible. It might have been prudent for there to have been an accompanying vehicle to have warned other drivers of its presence, if it was excessively large, and intruding well onto the road.
One cannot help but wonder at the advisability of a 48 year old cancer sufferer recovering from chemotherapy, riding a motor-cycle that she proved unable to control when faced with the unexpected. Tragically it was her 52 year old husband, not the elderly car driver, who hit her, killing her. Might he have been travelling too closely behind to not have been able to avoid the collision? Motor-cyclists are all too exposed and vulnerable in accidents, and the skills of middle-aged riders might be questioned. .
I’m sure that there are many elderly drivers whose driving skills are so much not what they were, that we fear to ride with them at the wheel. How we wish they would relinquish their driver licences, yet they stubbornly refuse! But do we need to set an arbitrary age at which they are no longer allowed to drive for the safety of others?
It is said that the devil is always in the detail, which we just do not know, to be able to fairly apportion blame in this case. It follows therefore, that we should pause and consider before always blaming the elderly for the accidents in which they are involved.