By Cherry Allan
Monday, 30 July 2018
Cycling UK believes that the Government should consider regular re-testing and other interventions to ensure drivers maintain good habits and that bad and/or medically unfit drivers are removed from the road. This article explains why this is important and how Cycling UK believes it should be done.
With Britain a long way from ‘Vision Zero’ (i.e. zero road casualties), and the number of offenders convicted of bad driving still high, it is clear that many experienced drivers fall into bad and hazardous habits, make errors, forget The Highway Code, and/or neglect to update themselves on changes.
In other words, they fail to maintain the standards they had to meet for their test. Inevitably, this contributes to the hostile road conditions that many pedestrians, cyclists and would-be cyclists find so intimidating.
Typically, drivers may only ever be asked to take a re-test or remedial training if they commit an offence (by which time, of course, it is too late). Likewise, they will probably only be subjected to medical screening if: they ‘self-declare’ themselves as unfit as required by law; if the DVLA receives a ‘tip-off’ about their fitness; or, again, if they offend.
Cycling UK therefore believes that the Government should introduce stronger interventions and processes to remove bad and/or unfit drivers from the road, and not leave it largely to ‘self-regulation’.
Self-regulation means that most drivers under 70 renew their licences every ten years without intervention from the authorities, even if they are failing to comply with the National Standard for Driving.
This is a weak approach, especially in the case of older drivers (see below). Still, to maximise the current system’s positive impact on road safety, the DVSA clearly needs to be proactive about supplying comprehensive information on: renewing; self-declaration; and the health problems than compromise the ability to drive safely.
Continuous learning and refresher training
In the interests of road safety, the Government would also be well-advised to invest in a more formalised system of continuous learning and refresher training, and to take a much more active role in encouraging all established drivers to undertake it regularly.
In particular, Cycling UK believes that the training professional drivers have to undergo to keep their Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) should involve a compulsory cycle awareness course, or practical cycle training, with no exemptions for any drivers of HGVs, e.g. for those driving empty vehicles from site-to-site etc.
Medical fitness to drive
Inevitably, doctors and eye care professionals come across people with conditions/medication that could make their driving unsafe. Cycling UK believes that they should never hesitate to report drivers who expose others to risk to the DVLA, and rigorously follow the relevant advice from the General Medical Council.
- For further reading, see PACTS’ (Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety) report ‘Fit to Drive?’ (March 2016). This looks in detail at research evidence, risks and current practice. It covers: hearing, diabetes, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, drugs, alcohol, fatigue, cognitive health, reduced physical strength and mobility, and personality.