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Calls for more support for mature drivers after Prince Philip's Norfolk crash

PUBLISHED: 07:33 18 January 2019 | UPDATED: 11:02 18 January 2019

File photo of The Duke of Edinburgh driving from Sandringham Parish Church, as a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman confirmed the duke was driving when he was involved in a road accident while driving close to the Sandringham Estate. Picture Haydn West/PA Wire.

File photo of The Duke of Edinburgh driving from Sandringham Parish Church, as a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman confirmed the duke was driving when he was involved in a road accident while driving close to the Sandringham Estate. Picture Haydn West/PA Wire.

A road safety charity has called for the government to take action on mature drivers' safety after the Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a crash in Norfolk.

The Duke of Edinburgh's car after it was involved in a collision at Babingley, near King's Lynn on Thursday.  Picture: Chris BishopThe Duke of Edinburgh's car after it was involved in a collision at Babingley, near King's Lynn on Thursday. Picture: Chris Bishop

The Duke, 97, was uninjured in the collision with another vehicle, which happened at around 3pm on Thursday on the A149 near King’s Lynn.

In light of the incident, charity IAM RoadSmart has called for the government to “put action behind their words” to ensure the safety of mature drivers.

Currently drivers over 70 have to renew their licence every three years but are not required to have their eyesight, hearing, reactions or driving skills tested.

Neil Greig, IAM Road Smart director of policy and research, said policy should focus on mature drivers and rural roads as well as drink and drug driving and speeding.

He said: “IAM RoadSmart is very thankful that no one has been seriously injured in the collision involving the Duke of Edinburgh and we wish all of those involved a speedy recovery.

“While the full circumstances around this collision are now subject of a police investigation, after an incident involving a high profile older driver, such as the Duke of Edinburgh, there is inevitable speculation about mature drivers and road safety.

“The government’s own road safety priorities highlight the need to do more for mature drivers and on rural roads, as well as a focus on younger drivers, speeding and drink and drug driving to further improve road safety. We support these priorities, and call for the government to put action behind their words.

“While every driver is different, we support the findings of the Older Driver Task Force that the age of licence renewal be raised to 75 but with evidence of an eye test also required.

The Duke of Edinburgh. Photo: Chris Jackson/PA WireThe Duke of Edinburgh. Photo: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

“We would also like to see more encouragement for drivers of all ages to take voluntary driving reviews to help them make informed choices about their driving skills.

“The fact that the government has yet to respond to this report despite it being published over two years ago is a concern for all road users, young and old.”

Edmund King, the president of the AA, said suggestions that elderly drivers should face bans or restrictions after car crashes were misplaced.

He said: “We wish the Duke of Edinburgh well. Many commentators use high-profile car crashes involving elderly drivers as a reason to call for bans or restrictions on older drivers.

“If driving restrictions based on age and safety were introduced we would be more likely to restrict young drivers rather than older drivers.

“Young, predominantly male, drivers are much more likely to crash within six months of passing their test than older drivers within six months of hanging up their keys.

“Older drivers often self-restrict their driving by not driving at night and only driving on familiar roads.

“The decision to hang up your keys is a tough one but should be based on personal advice from your GP and family rather than being based on some arbitrary age.

Debris at the scene of the crash involving the Duke of Edinburgh�s car.   Picture: Chris BishopDebris at the scene of the crash involving the Duke of Edinburgh�s car. Picture: Chris Bishop

“We all age differently and the car is an essential lifeline for many elderly people.”

Norfolk police confirmed that the Duke and the female driver of the other car involved, a Kia, were breathalysed and blew negative readings.

Norfolk County Council will meet today to decide whether average speed cameras should be installed to cut accidents on the stretch of road where the crash occurred, near Babingley.

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

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