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Driving tests for over 75s should be mandatory, whether it's Prince Philip or anyone

PUBLISHED: 17:22 18 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:14 20 January 2019

Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh at the wheel enjoying the National Horse Carriage Trials at Sandringham in 2017. Photo: Gary Pearson

Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh at the wheel enjoying the National Horse Carriage Trials at Sandringham in 2017. Photo: Gary Pearson

Gary Pearson

Yes, there are young drivers who should probably be off the road, yes drink driving is a scourge of all ages. But at a certain point, we have to admit that we're not 17 any more and maybe we need another driving test, don't we? says Liz Nice

Prince Philip was still driving at 97 the day before his accident and one assumes he will continue to do so afterwards.

As we don’t yet know the cause of his mishap, we shouldn’t draw any concrete conclusions from the incident itself but let’s be clear. He is 97 and he is still driving - without any mandatory checks to ensure he is still capable.

This isn’t because he is Prince Philip, though one imagines there probably would be a separate rule for him as he is, after all, Prince Philip.

But the lack of checks applies to everyone – and I’m not convinced this is right.

Currently, drivers have to renew their licences at the age of 70 and every three years after that but they don’t even have to take an eye test, let alone any test to see if their reactions have slowed.

We’re supposed to declare any condition that suggests we shouldn’t drive – dementia, Parkinson’s, various eye conditions – but does everyone really do so? And, in most cases, who would know?

The charity IAM Roadsmart has suggested that the age at which licences have to be renewed is raised to 75, (70 does seem a little young) but with evidence of an eye test as well.

I would suggest this is the bare minimum and the charity’s call for people to undertake ‘voluntary driving reviews to help them make informed choices’ doesn’t go far enough – and who would volunteer anyway, and run the risk of being banned?

Frankly, I’d suggest that everyone over 75 should have a compulsory test and then every three years after that as their licence is renewed.

Yes, it will be a pain.

Yes, everyone over 75 won’t necessarily need one – I still feel very safe with my 81 year old dad who says ‘there are 80 year olds and there are 80 years olds’ and he is quite right - but honestly, for every competent older driver, who hasn’t also been in the car with an extremely elderly person at the wheel and realised that they have in fact just placed their life into a very shaky pair of hands?

I can recall an elderly neighbour of ours who used to drive me about.

She was in her 90s and quite lethal.

The trouble with driving is that it represents everything no one of any age wants to give up.

Freedom, independence, carefree abandon.

No one is going to relinquish that voluntary especially in East Anglia with rural bus and other services as they are – but this is precisely why the Government needs to act, whether it’s Prince Philip or anyone.

It’s hard to admit that age takes things away but it’s also a little profligate to believe that a test we passed at 17 is still valid 80 years later, don’t you think?

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