Elderly drivers: ‘tests needed’

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THE FORMER treasurer of the Scarborough Older People’s Forum has called for older drivers to undergo rigorous testing before they are allowed behind the wheel.

Pensioner Dennis Orford made the suggestion after a government report urged that pensioners be sent on training courses if they break traffic laws.

The 74-year-old from Sandybed, who has been driving for over half a century, said that in the wrong hands, a car could be a “lethal machine”, adding: “Would you put a shotgun in the hands of a blind man? Just this morning we were out and an older gentleman was driving who just shouldn’t have been on the road. He was terrible.

“I believe that when you get to a certain age, be that 70, 80 or whatever, you should have your eyes tested, and a proficiency test for your driving.”

His comments come as new figures show that as many as six million over-70s are still driving on the nation’s roads, an approximate six-fold increase since 1977.

Mr Orford believes that many of Scarborough’s elderly population should look at alternative ways of making their way around town, adding: “With the price of driving these days, if you need to go somewhere two or three times a week it would be cheaper to get a taxi, what with the cost of keeping and running a car.

“I think a lot of it though has to do with the feelings of pride people have, and a refusal to slow down.

“But I believe that part of getting older is that things do become harder and learning to deal with this.”

Currently, drivers over 70 only have to certify themselves as fit for the roads, and Mr Orford added: “I hope that when the time comes and my reflexes slow down, I’d be able to say enough is enough.”