St. John’s Antigua- Head of Right Way Driving School is urging the authorities to put measures in place to better manage renewal of drivers’ licences, particularly for elderly residents.
Leon Shannon, a certified driving instructor for over 20 years, has suggested, “For every 10 years of holding a licence, drivers should be asked to do a physical examination to include testing of the ability to see and hear because these senses are critical to driving.”
While he is not suggesting authorities institute a cut-off age when persons must stop driving, Shannon said the examinations should be done more frequently, as people reach the age of pension.
The instructor’s remarks come on the heels of two tragic accidents involving two elderly male drivers. On Christmas Day 70-year-old Sheffield Henry of Powells was driving along Sir George Walter Highway around 10:45 pm when he came into contact with 23-year-old Kelvin Thomas, a pedestrian.
And, on Thursday, 81-year-old Walter Joseph was driving TX 837 and reportedly ran into seven-year-old Destiny Marsh. The child was pinned under the vehicle, and dragged some 30 feet before eyewitnesses alerted Joseph and he stopped.
Under the Vehicle and Road Traffic Act, the auhorities have the power to deny licences to anyone suffering from a disease or physical disability likely to cause the driver to be a source of danger to the public.
However, renewal of one’s licence does not require the driver having to produce results of a physical fitness or medical test.
Shannon said he is not casting blame on any of the drivers, who have not been charged, but he said the incidents gave rise to the debate among several driving instructors and other residents yesterday.
It also led to Senior Sergeant Elson Quammie, head of the traffic department urging drivers and pedestrians to be more cautious on the roads, particularly now during the holiday season when the city is abuzz with activity.
“I’d’ advise motorists to pick up a copy of the Highway Code because (it) is the road user’s Bible. By adhering to its steps you will do much to make our highway safe and pleasant for use for all,” he said on OBSERVER AM yesterday.
Quammie said police records show a decrease in the number of accidents this year when compared to the same period last year.
As it relates to road fatalities, there were 10 last year and so far there has been three in 2012.
“People have all these tips and advice and yet there are so many accidents. One road death is one too many. I urge motorists to drive defensively to cut down on the number of accidents,” the senior sergeant said.
According to the Traffic Department boss, the force would be reviewing the accident trends for 2012 to see how accidents could be prevented, among other things.
He also said measures would to taken to ensure continued education of the public about road safety.