From the local paper, the West Sussex County Times, 14th April 2011 (this story is not available online) –
An 85-year-old driver has admitted she was to blame for a crash which left three people injured near Cowfold.
Margaret Sharpus, of Third Avenue, Bexhill, had denied dangerous driving, but changed her plea to guilty on Tuesday.
Crawley magistrates court heard that the crash involved Sharpus’ Renault Clio and a Volkswagen Gold on July 20 last year.
Prosecutor David Holman said she strayed onto the wrong side of the road while rounding a bend, leaving the driver of the oncoming Volkswagen with no time to take evasive action.
A Ford Fiesta, which had been behind the Volkswagen, ended up on the grass verge.
Mr. Holman said Sharpus and two women who were in the Volkswagen were all taken to hospital.
Sharpus, who had been driving since she was 20 and never had an accident before, could not explain why she had strayed onto the wrong side of the road.
She said she did not remember what happened, but photos of the crash scene had convinced her that she must have been responsible, and she did not plan to drive again.
Magistrates banned her from driving for one year and ordered her to pay a £150 fine, £250 costs, and a £15 victim surcharge.
Despite Mrs. Sharpus’ admission of guilt, and admirable desire never to drive again in the light of this incident, magistrates evidently feel she will be fit to resume her place behind the wheel of a motor vehicle in one year’s time, when she will be aged 86, imposing only the minimum one year ban for a dangerous driving conviction.
Is that really sensible?
A more responsible strategy after cases like this would be to impose a compulsory re-sitting of the driving test, in the event that the driver does not wish to surrender their driving licence. In the meantime, however, we have a system in which dangerous elderly drivers who have come close to killing people, including themselves, are free to return to the road, with no assessment of their ability before they do so.
It seems that the right to drive trumps the right to safety.