Blog : Compulsory tests? Please, please, please!

Mike Humble

Mr Magoo – Comedy cartoon gem or Ironic reality?

My daily commute to work should, in theory, be a stress free and enjoyable trek and to be fair, most of the time it is. Residing in leafy West Sussex, we are far away from London to avoid all the hubbub and trauma that comes with the Metropolis, yet close enough to it should we decide to go there.

The M23 fades away turning into a meandering dual A road to the Brighton coast once you jab the indicator stalk towards the Horsham junction at Pease Pottage and the unimaginatively titled Horsham By-pass turns into the A24 to Worthing, a nice dual carriageway with some disturbingly good views. Yes we get the usual rush hour traffic around here, but that’s all it is and then it’s gone.

Horsham in general, like most of the Sussex and Surrey terrain, has an above average number of older folk living with its Parishes, if I was 15 years younger I would be crying with boredom as NOTHING ever traumatic or remotely worrying (unless Mr Adams pays a visit) ever happens.

The only real issue I have with Sussex off peak motoring is the disturbing number of near misses us comparatively younger drivers endure on a day to day basis. If its not badly piloted yummy mummies veering around the road in their Q7 as they try to apply their Max Factor whilst sodding around on a blackberry whilst dressing little Timmy for school, its Mr & Mrs Oldscroat bimbling along in a Honda Jazz in a true Mr Magoo fashion.

What is it with some older drivers? They jump red lights, almost kill cyclists, drive the wrong way on motorways and knock the hell out of your car door whilst parking at Sainsburys, yet they qualify for cheaper insurance – in the words of Jack Regan ‘its all bloody wrong my son’.

A prime example of this I will share with you – today, driving home from work, out of peak traffic, I’m proceeding straight on at a roundabout. Bear in mind that I am already on said roundabout, an elderly couple driving a 58 plate Zafira jump right into my path. Needless to say, the last time my ABS worked was at the MoT test and had I not been paying attention, there would have been sh*t & feathers everywhere.

After today, I’m pleased I recently fitted new brakes and tyres – they certainly work!

Of course, he got the obligatory five second blast of pre project drive twin tones and I heard the Passat behind me trying to avoid stencilling his Volkswagen logo in the boot lid of my Rover 75. What came next was nothing short of staggering, he had the gall to follow me into a nearby filling station to vent his spleen with regards to my toot-a-thon.

Almost falling out of his Vauxhall, he was so bow legged that he wouldn’t have stopped a runaway pig in an alley, as he ranted at me of all people. I asked him what the prime directive is when approaching a roundabout – especially one on a national speed limit dual carriageway. The usual rubbish about how he had been driving for 900 years blah blah blah cut no mustard with yours truly, and he got a bit from me.

I reminded him that giving way to traffic from the right is always a good idea, as is having legal tyres (the NSF was knackered on the outer edge – a sure sign of constant kerbing). I also added that had I ALSO not been paying attention, 15cwt of Rover would have rammed his drivers door and more likely than not, killed him. Now I watched him draw up to the give way markers at his junction of the aforementioned roundabout and his neck did not even move, he made no effort to look right whatsoever.

His Zafira also sported a nice big dent in the front wing too, and I’ll hazard a guess who was to blame for that. Sufficed to say, I was getting nowhere with the old sod, so I simply walked away from him and paid for my fuel – it was the only and kindest thing to do this side of punching him up the conk!

But it doesn’t end there dear friends, ten minutes later on the same fast road, I was following one of those pointless Smart For Two Jobbies (just what is smart about a plastic car that makes you look either fat or stupid – or both exactly?) approaching a big cross road, the speed limit checks you down from 70 to 50mph in anticipation of the lights changing sequence.

It’s a notorious junction with speed cameras, red light cameras and SO19 snipers all ready to catch a gambling motorist or Audi A6 pilot, but there is sensible anticipation and there’s sheer stupidity. Without any reason, he sharply applied his brakes whilst the green light was showing causing yours truly to take evasive action.

A quick glance into the chrome plated door mirror confirmed a quick death by Volvo Globetrotter would be inevitable should I decide to hop into the outside lane, so I had no option but to anchor up to avoid a shunt. After slowing down to an incredulous TWENTY FIVE mph and then bumbling away again, he gleaned an obligatory burst from the 75s elegant quad headlamps.

As I eventually overtook said giffer, he was also an elderly man who gave me a hard stare akin to the glare I threw back. Arriving home, I almost ran inside and locked the door thankful in the knowledge that I was safe again, but after brewing the tea that I sit here sipping while pondering – it all confirms what I and many others have been saying for years.

We need to have compulsory re-testing in this Country, especially for the senior driver as many of them learned to drive when record players were clockwork and everything was made of bake-o-lite. And before some of you start clucking, some old folk are bloody good drivers. One fella who’s car I used to service (a 75 in fact) is well into his 70s and can drive the wheels off any car and is still as sharp as a master cutlers knife drawer – but oh so many are sadly not.

Up and down the land, the same stories hit the news – old ladies driving the wrong way on the M11 for 20 miles, pensioner kills cyclist, 85 year old man drives into someone’s living room… and so on – and it needs to stop.

This lady in her 70s thought she had selected reverse, drove through her garage wall and into this brook – your kids could have been collecting tadpoles here! (Pic: Daily Telegraph)

I truly believe that a mandatory re-test or at the very least, a hazard perception test should be the law for every motorist who hits 60 and then say every five years thereafter. Its natural that we all slow down as we get older, I’ve certainly noticed that since turning 40 earlier this year, but by taking a pro-active stance we will make the roads safer.

On a personal level, in five years time when I hit 45, I will have to take a compulsory medical to keep my own PSV and HGV licences and every five years thereafter, so what’s the difference? None, and its all in the duty of safety and I for one have no problem with that. So why has compulsory re-testing never happened despite public outcries?

I’ll bloody tell you why, the largest percentage of people who, come rain or shine, always cast their vote at election time are the senior citizens. It would be a very brave party indeed that would hold that white paper aloft, and whoever brought it into legislation would loose such a huge chunk of votes, not even the promise of free Sanatogen or Werthers Originals would win them back.

So in the meantime, keep ’em peeled for Mr or Mrs Magoo – not just in Sussex, but everywhere!

Mike Humble


  1. We live in an area where the local population are elderly, some can hardly walk, have slow reactions and many are deaf (but think they are not). I have long thought the test is not enough for todays roads and would be happy to see a major overhaul. Perhaps from the age of 60 we should sit a course / refresher and again every 5 years. There must come a time when we have to surrender our licence altogether as our reactions become to slow.

  2. Whey hey, have thought the same thing after simular experiences.


    The should be a compulsory retest every ten years for Everyone!

    I can hear the gasps of horror from here and even my own stomach is churning at the thought.

    It would be a nightmare!

    But the standard of driving on our roads is shocking, i have witnessed to many cases that actually scared me, also driving law changes and we all aquire bad habits. That’s across all age groups and genders, not just the elderly..

  3. I’m hot and cold on this… You’ll always have fools on the road.. Some people seem to pass their test and then instantly ignore all off it..

    The times that I’ve had near misses have been mixed.. The only time that springs to mind of an older driver causing me an issue was BEING TAILGATED by another fellow Fabia.. an Estate, piloted by a very frail lady.. who was adamant the 30zone was anything but… She peeped me and flashed her lights too! .. Strangest position I’ve ever been in, that?? lol.. I put a little space between us and she caught up.. and continued her tailgaiting??

  4. Briliant blog, very witty too. Yes, retests are a good idea. Just done a driving awareness course to avoid 3 points and was amazed at what I DIDN´T know after 26 years of driving. I got caught on camera doing 35 in a 30 which seemed a bit harsh but, sure enough, we were shown just what a difference 5mph makes if you hit someone.

  5. Well I chortled all the way through this piece, its a good job it was so humourously written otherwise I’d the blood pressure would have started to rise.

    I agree with retests every 10 years, I kind of did this when I took my trailer towing test at 27, what was the hardest bit of the test? Reversing the trailer? No, manouvering the trailer? No It was driving in the way I’d been taught 10 years ago!!
    However it also pointed out how bad the driving test is with tosh like not crossing your hands on the steering wheel etc. and also if you always drove like this the nation would grind to a standstill!

    On a lighter note my favourite old duffer story came from last year when an old dear reversed her Citroen C2 with reversing sensors I might add right into the side of my XLWB LDV convoy high Roof from about 10 metres away, She was about to merrily drive off when i confronted, She hadnt even realised she’d hit me and said she hadnt seen the van!! **** Me, the things massive, how could she not?
    She was just about to recieve a full barrage of expletives when inexplicably I felt sorry for her, she reminded me of my Grandma (who doesn’t drive I might add!)and so she went on her way with a “be more careful” to no doubt do more damage.

    If i’m lucky enough to reach my twilight years all my friends and family will be under strict instructions to take me off the road if ever I start dribving like that!!

  6. A hairdresser near me has a reduced price pensioners day on Wednesdays. Some of them have to be escorted out of the shop and into their cars as they can hardly walk, let alone turn their head through 180 degrees. Lethal.

  7. I agree with Peter, I see the worst driving during the rush hour commute of which the majority of drivers are of working age.
    Whether it be rural drivers who tailgate because you aren’t doing 80mph on a winding B road, SUV drivers who don’t know the size, weight, handling and blindspots of their vehicles (including reversing without looking!) or the usual german boxes tailgating / cutting up / no indicators – Lane discipline goes out the window in favour of taking the shortest queue and squeezing in their actual intended lane in the smallest of gaps at the last minute, ironically adding to the congestion in that lane! I know people who don’t realise the NSL is 60 on a single carraigeway, 70 on a dual carraigeway (unless otherwise signed) and 30 on all urban roads (again unless otherwise signed).

  8. My father-in-law is 90this year and still drives to France and Spain once or twice a year. He is sensible enough to know that he is not the driver he used to be, and now finds himslef driving more consciously than sub-consciously as we all do with experience.

    Like elderly pedestrians, some of these dangerous drivers still think thet their current steed is doing the same speed and is of the same construction as their 1950’s and 60’s chariot, in a world where speeds were so much lower and fatal accidents not nearly so frequent or inevitable.

    Retesting is fine, but as the writer says it is more the theory than the actual driving the thing that is the root of the problem. A compulsory Highway Code exam would possibly suffice for most, with a basic driving competence test for a practical

  9. So, so agree with you Mike – and I’m only six years away from your 60 retest – I have to admit to having been on a Government Sponsored retrainig of my abilities, albeit at my expense (speed awareness tax saving scheme!) and found it so useful. I appear at 54 to know far more than peopel in their 20’s and 30’s – most of whom didn’t know that the dotted white lines in the middle of the road varied in length for a reason – and I would suggest that with the now crowded roads (and the idiot today in Plymouth who called me a W*****r and got hit by another driver who though he was speaking to him 🙂 – who says sometimes just rewards don’t happen) that retests are held every 10 or 15 years until you’re 60, then every five years ’till you’re – say 85, then annual.
    Incidently the loadmouth shouted at me because he didn’t understand the ‘merge in turn’ concept 🙂 (and he was a 50 something).

  10. I have some sympathy with Keith’s views but on balance I think the type of poor driving he describes is not confined to us “Oldscroats”.(or yummy mummies)

    In July 1956 I passed my driving test, at the age of seventeen, in a Cyclops Rover 75 complete with dodgy handbrake. Although fitted with a freewheel device and a steering column gear change, there was no synchromesh on 1st or 2nd gears. Double de-clutching was obligatory, no power steering or power anything, brakes and suspension probably better on modern caravans, some of us Oldscroats know more about driving than some younger drivers.

    Mike may want to consider just one advantage that some oldies bestow on other drivers. In 56 years of paying insurance premiums, without making a single fault claim, I have provided a bigger contribution to the insurance cover pot than say someone of Mike’s age group. When I obtain an annual quote, I am judged by my driving standard over the previous five years and not the past 56.

    I can assure the younger driver that, whilst I appreciate that it doesn’t follow that a driver is blameless because of the absence of a claim, I must have learned some driving skills; in fact, to maintain my standards, I regard every drive as practice.

    We could discuss this topic for ever but as a final comment I must remind the drivers outside Mike’s oldie category that whenever I see someone driving an oppulent saloon trying to park his front wheels in my boot, on the motorway, it is more often than not a young 40 something. executive.

    Just two final examples to counter the many criticisms made of other driver’s standards, there is no such thing as a “fast road” and to sound your horn in the manner Mike describes (ie.”5 second blast of pre project drive twin tones”) could be regarded as a road traffic offence.

  11. Thanks Tillsbury

    But read it again… I didn’t categorise all old driver’s and nor did Keith write the article.

    On a slightly sarcastic note, I hope you pay more attention to your driving (ahem sniff)

  12. Re testing should not target the older motorist ( and not, therefore make them feel targeted by politicians), it should be on everyone – a retest after a specified period. Say 5 years after passing your test and every 10 years after that, at retirement age and 5 year intervals after that.

    Lots of people have become dangerous drivers after time, regardless of age, and need either corrective action or removal from the roads.

    “Never had an accident in my life – seen loads in my mirrors though” springs to mind.

  13. My great aunt (when she was still with us) would drive her K11 Micra to the post office and back and little more, and was reasonably adept at it. While at the post office one day however a senior (But younger than her) driver with an automatic modus got mixed up with his gearbox/pedals and ended up punting her micra a good few yards down the road. He ended up in court and was found guilty but allowed to keep his licence due to “hardship”.

    This was then found to be a bad thing when he got his pedals mixed up again and took out a wall outside Dolgellau’s FUW office…

  14. Good rant, but “your kids could have been collecting tadpoles here!”


    It’s enough that some drivers are going to kill ME. I don’t need any further encouragement 😀

    (Also, I doubt it, they’d be playing Halo and cultivating allergies).

  15. (As for the rest, 5 yearly retests for all. Not maybe a full test, but a definite “competency” test. You’re a good driver, whatcha got to worry about? Still won’t prevent idiots like the prat in a Celica that I saw overtaking in Hinckley’s 30mph restricted road near a supermarket junction, or the HGVs on the A5 that regularly “fail to see” the flashing orange thing that tells them I’m going right on the roundabout so they should stop”. Bad drivers pass tests, then drive, badly. So it goes.)

  16. No-one seems to know how to merge in turn. It turns into a “get one over on the other queue” offensive/defensive driving exercise.
    I only ever had 1 driver follow and shout (and I hadn’t done anything wrong!!!), an older 3 series driver, who didn’t understand the concept at a certain traffic light controlled T junction, that the inside lane was for traffic turning left from a sliproad (straight into the lane, no give way) and the right hand lane was for traffic which had turned right from the opposite direction, both can be green and have equal priority, it creates a 4 lane road and from there you work out which lane you need to be in.
    He assumed that he could turn right from his direction, cut across the chevrons and own the inside lane too.

  17. i’d go a step further
    once you reach the age for a free bus pass that’s it, sell your car and use public transport.
    i know people might quote rural areas and such, or some older drivers are better than others…
    personally i don’t care, imagine how much traffic would be off the road, how much safer the roads could be!

  18. Hi Mike,
    At 10 & 15
    Many thanks for reading my blog Mike, but nowhere can I find any suggestion by me that you categorised all old drivers.
    The reference to Keith in my opening sentence is clearly a mistake.In trying “slightly sarcastically” to capitalise on that mistake, Mike makes the mistake of placing an apostrophe in the word “driver’s” which hopefully does not reflect on his driving attention span, which, as an HGV and PSV licence holder, I am sure it doesn’t.

  19. Good Rant and a lot of valid points.

    Once you get to a certain age you should be subject to a check to ensure you still have your faculties and the physical and mental attributes to drive safely.

    The standard of driving generally is terrible and too many people think they own the road (don’t they realise I do?) and others have made terrible motoring errors – they have bought Peugeots. This is the reason why most of my driving is to and from York station rather than face the motorway network.

    I did once get the “I’ve been driving for 30 years” once from an old gti in a Citroen who nearly wiped out my kids and I by pulling out without looking to which I could only respond “You’ve been a rubbish driver that long?”

    As for cyclists – I have limited sympathy for them as too many cycle on footpaths and terrorise pedestrians then they complain that roads are too dangerous for them – pure hypocracy!

    For info this is diet rant mode…….don’t get me going!

  20. I always enjoy reading your blogs Mike and I totally agree. We had to send my granny off to a home recently and it was the dents on her car rapidly breeding that alerted us to her going off the ball, poor Clio never saw it coming. Also Richard I’ll have you know I was waiting for halo to load whilst reading this column! 😛

  21. To be fair it isn’t just the older drivers, through some of them are a menace. There is a reason why young men have such high insurance.

    Take the young guy in an Audi who overtook me last weekend. 30 limit in a built up area, he was frustrated that I was obeying the speed limit. His frustration boiled over when I braked and slowed down. He shot passed me, only then did he notice why I had braked, the red lights directly in front of him. He of course did an emergency stop directly in front of me. God knows how I didn’t end up driving straight through him.

    I see this all the time, insane dangerous bits of driving, and what is really frustrating is I know that speed camaras and all the other automated traffic enforcement we have is useless against these people. It just makes everyone else’s life that little more unpleasant.

  22. Compulsory retesting every five years. For everybody. If you pass with flying colours, your insurance premium comes down.

  23. Unless the re-test is easier than when you first take your test, if you ever took one, then virtually everyone would fail. And if that is the case you end up with a huge swathe of the population more isolated than they were before and no, a bus pass is a patronising and ridiculous way of suggesting thats the choice if you have your licence taken away; try telling that to the vast majority of the elderly who cannot walk that far, do not live near a bus station and have lost the mussels to carry their weeks shop from the supermarket to the nearest bus stop 1/2 a mile away. Sorry, a ridiculously callous idea.

    Perhaps a better idea would be to educate the younguns or those such as this blogger to slow down themselves, have some extra patience for the elderly or pack up driving and take public transport themselves; at least they should be in a fitter state to do so.

    Venting his spleen at such nonsense – aged less than 50.

  24. Eye sight tests for all people every 10 years and every 5 years over the age of 50 would make the roads much safer. I have a theory on why people’s driving is so poor and that is because modern car’s are so quiet and easy to drive that people are just constantly day dreaming and not thinking or concentrating about their driving. Just think of all those car’s out there every day that are actualy on “Auto pilot” with no-one actualy driving!!
    Luckily for me my old Disco’ 200tdi knows most of the places I go to and it finds it’s own way home without fail!

  25. I regularly witness the fray as the Magoos mix with kamikaze commuters on the A272 every morning – I can confirm they’re out before 7am. A daily spectacle best enjoyed from a generous distance where possible!

    But I wonder how much of the above can be put down to drivers’ poor attitudes rather than simply lack of knowledge/ability though? That might be a bit more difficult to tackle.

    Certainly a requirement for spending some constructive time with a qualified instructor every few years for drivers of ALL ages would help matters – it can even be quite enjoyable! Presumably would create a lot of extra jobs too.

    In the meantime we’ll just keep pointing cameras at empty motorways and turning a blind eye to everything else…

  26. Having covered hundreds of thousands of miles since passing my test, every year when the insurance comes round, you feel yet again that you are subsidising everyone else to have accidents. I wouls like an “advanced” test to lower significantly my premium. Insurance on my main car is now knocking £600 a year (that’s with full no-claims). There are so many people on the road with absolutely no awareness of what is going on around them (it’s not just older drivers)

  27. Dude, you just need to chill out, if it gets to you that bad just stay at home, everybody makes mistakes old and young and maybe even you.
    Being a good driver is about coping with all these things, not ranting and raving about them.
    Why should you expect your commute to be stress free? The old people you write so rudely about have often worked for longer than you have been alive and if they want to dawdle about in a Jazz or anything else, why shouldn’t they?
    You are 40, you expect to live to at least 45, I’m guessing that you would like to live as long as the old folks you diss?
    I suggest you go to your GP, get your blood pressure tested and calm down a bit, or YOU won’t last long enough to dawdle about.

  28. I had some “old fart” behind me once give me a barrage for having the temerity to stop at a red traffic light at the roundabout at the Milton Road/A14 interchange in Cambridge. Presumably I should have ignored the light (maybe he didn’t realise due to his cataracts, who knows?). Also watching some coffin dodger attempting to park at the supermarket is fun (as long as its not your car they are trying to park next to); almost as much fun as watching somebody trying to squeeze a double matress in the back of a Fiesta at Ikea. I also witnessed two old blokes (they appeared to be both well over 50 years old) having some “argy bargy” on the M60 for a couple of miles (I think one of them had pulled out from a slip road in front of the other)! Both were doing around 70mph – the consequences if they had actually hit each other were terrifying. They both wanted their heads knocking together and they were certainly old enough to know better.

    Tillsbury1 – your driving record over the last x years is only a factor in the calculation of your quote – it is based on “insured risk”, which is why you get ridiculous things happen like I had last year when somebody ran up the back of me at a junction. My subsequent renewal quote was higher because I was judged to have a higher risk of then having an at fault accident (I asked the insurance company to send me the stats the underwriters base this judgement on; they refused). This despite the fact that in the 20+years of me being on the road I have never had an “at fault” accident (or points on my licence). The lack of transparency and the “cartel like” business practices of insurance companies ensure drivers are being milked.

  29. “Unless the re-test is easier than when you first take your test, if you ever took one, then virtually everyone would fail. ”

    Why? 20 years after my driving test, roughly, I took a Direct Access Bike test, completed the theory test and CBT and then got told in no uncertain terms I wasn’t allowed a bike by SWMBO. I had no doubts about passing the practical.

    I would happily take another driving test. Any time. Why should I be worried – frankly, I want my driving to be of a higher standard than a newly-passed learner, as I have experience as well. And this is not ego, it’s just a fact.

    Now, whether my driving is always up to scratch when I’m driving day to day, who knows. I get tired, or cross, or I have other things on my mind… I may be distracted by pain, or swapping legs for pedals, or doing other things. But I try to be aware of this and slow down, leave a bigger gap, stop and rest, to try and ensure that I’m safe regardless.

    Interestingly, my tiny slow MX5 costs more than my SAAB 900 Convertible to insure. 40% more. Astounding.

  30. Just been to see an 8 year old 4wd with 11,000 miles on the clock – “late mother in law”. Turned out she passed away at 93, so all credit to her, but there were more dents in the bodywork than you could shake a stick at. Aged 54, I probably have my feet in both camps but there certainly does come a point when it’s time to hang the keys up…

  31. A very interesting post. Mike Humble plainly does not realise just how much it reveals about him. It seems to me that he is correct in one respect : psychological testing on a regular basis would reveal those drivers who are unsuited to modern conditions. And guess what ? such testing might reveal that, based on his plainly aggressive attitudes to other road users , Mike Humble is not fit to continue holding a driving licence

    Furthermore, judging from his account of someone having the temerity to slow to 25 mph when approaching traffic lights on green , Mr Humble is unaware of the significance of green lights . They do not give an unfettered right to cross them – but give a licence to do so only if such an action is safe

  32. West Sussex is a nightmare for old drivers. The worst place is Rustington where the Dept of Transport try out new lights/crossings as if they work there they will work anywhere. A little tale of a few years ago in Rustington that happened to me. I was told of an OAP in excess of 85 years that used his car once a week to go 4 miles total to collect his prescription.I didnt believe this until one day said car and driver stopped in front of me. Out got the OAP and took 15 mins to get out and into Boots, after 10 mins he appeared at Boots door and edged his way back to his car and after another 10 mins was inside ready to go 2 miles back home. This gentleman drives a max of 200 miles a year and what car did he drive all the way in a 30 mph limit? a rather nice metalic blue 2 year old Aston Martin DB7. We have hundereds of these oap’s in big new cars in Rustington that go nowhere with lots of dents in there cars and never had an accident in 50 years of driving. Soon as they loose there license they get a buggy and start knocking you down on the path.

  33. Just read this before going out to work (not the best idea really!) and I thought it was spot-on. Especially the line about “Yummy Mummies” in their Q7s….to be honest, they are the scourge of my existence on the road more so than old folk. Don’t use mirrors, indicators, speed, tailgate, cut you up at junctions all because they think they’re better than my peasant, 1989 Vauxhall Nova-driving arse because they can afford to buy an all-organic food shop at Waitrose every week….even though their glorified UN tanks were probably paid for by hubby’s money.

    I have seen bad driving from all ages, my age (I’m 23), teens, middle-aged folk and pensioners to be honest and I’ve only been drivng 5 years. I sometimes find myself doing bad things on the road from time to time as well….anyone who thinks their driving skills are perfect is deluded.

    One bad habit that is the most annoying (apart from tailgating and not looking at junctions) is people who DON’T INDICATE…espcially when lane-changing. That’s dangerous because you have no idea what they are about to do. Is it that hard to flick a stalk by the steering wheel?

  34. Keep on Tootin’ Mike, and dont be afraid for fistycuffs at your local Shell…..cos only Shell fuels are good enough for that 75 !

  35. FRom the BBC news web site…

    A woman has died after she was hit by a car in a multi-storey car park in Surrey.

    Police said the 77-year-old woman suffered serious head injuries in the incident in Epsom on Monday and has since died in hospital.

    Another pedestrian, a woman in her 20s, was also hit by the car and treated for leg and pelvis injuries. She was discharged from hospital that day.

    The collision happened in the Ashley Centre just after 10:00 BST.

    A spokeswoman for Surrey Police said the driver of the Nissan Micra, a woman in her 80s, was not injured but was taken to Epsom Hospital as a precaution.

    She said the driver had remained in hospital for observation.

    Surrey Police still want to speak to anyone who saw what happened and witnesses have been urged to contact the force.

  36. Until recently I worked for B&Q.
    Earlier this year we had an elderly woman destroy 3 cars in the car park (including her own) and damage another two! We watched the incedent back on the CCTV in disbelief!
    She was backing her ’99 plate Astra auto out from a parking slot inch by inch, when at the same time, directly behind her, an elderly Gent was inching his corsa out backwards. Slow as you like both senior drivers completely failed to see each other and just ever so slowly kissed rear bumpers. For some reason the old lady’s reaction to this was to perform what I can only describe as a ‘neutral drop’ ! -Full revs in neutral- slam into drive. The Astra catapulted forwards with such force that both parked cars it hit (a mk2 Mondeo and Yaris IIRC ) where pretty much destroyed, and both pushed back and sideways into adjacent cars causing damage. The Astra’s front end was basically ripped off. Impressive with such a short run up!
    Thankfully no-one was injured as the parked cars where empty and the confused old bat had ate the airbag before her brain had even begun to understand what was going on. We phoned her an ambulance as a precaution.
    Of course, this all happened on a Wednesday, Wednesdays is 10% off day for over 60’s at B&Q. So if your off to a B+Q on a Wednesday, park as far away from the entrance as possible, the old dears cant walk that far so their cars are a safe distance from yours!

  37. @Alan

    Your story is both amusing and shocking. Part of the problem too is that people in car parks don’t *look behind them* when reversing, instead checking the mirrors.
    I’ve nearly been ran over by people reversing in supermarkets who don’t see me (at 6 foot 3 and 17st, hard to miss!!)

    Reminds me of this –

    SUV destroying a couple of nice cars.

    My own autobox, the other day at the recycling centre I was in the wrong area for recycling cardboard, tried to flick it into reverse, missed and was sitting in neutral revving. Embarrassing but luckily no harm done.

  38. A close relative has been the worst driver I’ve ever come across for the whole of my life. Luckily, due to financial constraints he has had to give up driving a few years ago- but even though he’s approaching 80 and has no need of a car, he keeps on trying to get me to help him buy one.

    This particular gentleman passed his test at the 5th or 6th attempt (can’t remember which) in the 1950s and has been a terror on the roads ever since. He has written off many cars, and he only avoids many other accidents because of the vigilance of other drivers. He can barely engage his seatbelt in my car without assistance from me.

    I’ve been in so many near-misses and actual accidents with him driving. For instance, he’ll be tailgating another driver at 80mph along an A road which ends in a T junction across it. Car in front stops, he stops. He looks right, sees a gap, accelerated. The car in front hadn’t moved… I’ve been in so many of those. Or when he ‘drives according to the conditions’ (eg any speed he likes regardless of signage to the contrary- or common sense). For example, barelling through a village at 80mph on the wrong side of the road due to parked cars, as another oncoming driver in a Mini is forced to drive onto the pavement to avoid him…

    He refuses to accept that he is totally incompetent (accusing me of lying when I cite actual examples), and used to boast how cheap his car insurance was compared to mine!

    I absolutely support the idea of compulsory re-testing, with a ‘two tries and your out’ approach, and re-testing maybe three years after first passing the test, then every ten years until maybe the age of 50, where eyesight and other faculties might deteriorate, so maybe every five after that.

  39. @ Chris
    Congratulations for surviving thus far!

    The problem with frequent age-related tests is that the process will be cumbersome/expensive, and require a whole new Government department to run it – God forbid.

    With people living longer, and being fit well into their 70’s and 80’s, there are going to be more and more of this type of driver occupying our roads in the coming years. Perhaps a simulator test, covering various types of driving environment (variable weather, day/night, urban/rural), might be a half-way house solution. An assessor would then decide if the driver was competent or needed to sit any further examination, including a full driving test.

    A lot of elderly people rely on their car for day to day living, but as others have said the safety of other road users has to be a deciding factor too.

  40. @Paul Taylor,

    It wouldn’t need a whole new department, just an expanded Driving Agency. And the tests should be priced sufficiently not to require additional tax payer funding but not high enough to generate a profit.

    Thing is, if some of the worst drivers could be taken off the roads, then car insurance would become cheaper for the rest of us- after all, many older drivers, like my relative, somehow get cheap car insurance despite the disproportionate ammount of damage they do to their own and other people’s vehicles- especially when they refuse to take responsibility for their behaviour after a prang they’ve caused (say by scraping another oncoming car by being too far over to the right), and so the insurers deal with incidents on a ‘six of one, half a dozen of the other’ basis, despite one party being actually far more to blame.

  41. @Paul Taylor,

    Forgot to mention, agree with the simulator idea, but I think it should also be backed up with a ‘real world’ test on the open road, as well as a theory test.

  42. Something definitely needs to be done. As im a bus driver (go on boo away)I’m on the roads all day long, and all day I see appalling driving standards and misdemeanours of all sorts and sadly these days it can’t be pinned on one group of drivers. It doesn’t matter whether they’re in Audis, 4×4’s school runs and school parking, or new or old drivers they all appear to drive on auto pilot with no forward planning hazard awareness etc and heaven help you if they think they’ll get stuck behind a bus!!!!!!!!! I think retaking of driving tests should now be mandatory for 10 year periods,

  43. Ah another bus driver…Yes we have to deal with these nuggets every day. We have a one way system in town that is clearly marked, and I’ve lost count of how many brainless mongs ignore it. There is also a closed road in the town centre, but idiots clearly ignore the ‘ROAD CLOSED’ signs and drive down it, then have to do 3 point turns.

    And I notice that Alex @52 also suffers from ‘must beat the bus’ syndrome, even if they almost cause a multiple pile up in the process.

    A classic today, me, my partner & 2 other people were almost mown down on a pedestrian crossing in a supermarket car park, by some idiot doing nearly 30.

  44. I do wonder if its related to the amount/type of driving you do during your driveing career. I used to see a lot of bad driving by OAPs on some spectacular levels when I lived in cardiff, and spent most of my time as a pedestrian. However now I live in rural Oxfordshire I rarely ever see it, I have a feeling becuse public transport is dreadfull and you have no option but to drive everywhere, mostly on bendy roads with trees and many blunt toold to ‘modify’ cars with, in winter as well as summer allowing Darwin to take care of most of the bad drivers before they reach old age! (although maybe we should reduce the driving age so Darwin can take care of them before they reach breeding age) However this may scare some of you I know of one 80yo who drives a 1965 AC 289 Cobra.. daily…

  45. Happy New Year to Mike for a most excellent site which gives me an entertaining read every day.

    Also greetings to Mike with appreciation for his equally excellent articles as I still think of him when driving my 16 years old 620ti. Although an OAP now, I use it as it was meant to be used, particularly when younger drivers, in their blacked out and re-arranged Clios, assume they will overtake me on the exit from a dual carriageway roundabout, with me on the inside – naughty old man!

    As a follow up to our blogs under Mike’s September article
    “Compulsory tests? Please, please, please!” I thought he and other ARo readers, may be interested in the following article.

    Best regards

  46. Oh for gawd’s sake I’ve repeated the reverse of my original mistake, by using Mike’s name when it should have been Keith’s in the first paragraph.



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