Why Did Headlines Turn Dry Report Into Controversial One Demanding ‘Let Older Drivers Run Red Lights’?

Why Did Headlines Turn Dry Report Into Controversial One Demanding ‘Let Older Drivers Run Red Lights’?

U.K., Daily Express

12/6/2021 1:00:00 AM

Why Did Headlines Turn Dry Report Into Controversial One Demanding ‘Let Older Drivers Run Red Lights’?

U.K. newspapers sex up dull story, claiming inaccurately that older drivers should be allowed to run red lights without being penalized.

Except that the report—Supporting Safe Driving into Old Ageand published by the Road Safety Foundation, which leads the Older Drivers Task Force—did not say that.Stretch“It is always interesting to launch a report and see what is made of it in the media,” Road Safety Foundation Executive Director Dr. Suzy Charman told me by email.

“I can just about see where the headlines have come from,” she added, “but it is rather a stretch from our very technical report, which covers many topics aside from the suggestion of rolling out fitness to drive assessments as an alternative to prosecution.”

"Supporting Safe Driving into Old Age" by Older Drivers Task Force.Older Drivers Task Force90-page report—which the government is not obliged to act upon—contains many recommendations, including adoption of the latest vehicle assistance systems, seatbelts that might be more protective of older drivers and passengers, standardization of voluntary driver appraisals, more research on diabetes and peripheral neuropathy, upgrades to junctions, and mandatory eyesight testing at license renewal at the age of 70. headtopics.com

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The “alternative to prosecution” recommendation is only one of many from the task force, and this was reported accurately in the original news story by theDaily Express.Supporting Safe Driving into Old Agestates: “A driver involved in a careless driving offence could be diverted from prosecution to a ‘Option 2’ type of driving assessment at a Driving Mobility Centre to undertake a Fitness to Drive Assessment.”

The report adds: “an individual would be given the choice to undertake this option as an alternative to prosecution for the offence of careless driving.”Supporting Safe Driving into Old Ageis an update of a2017 report with the same titlefrom the Older Drivers Task Force. Among its earlier recommendations, the body argued that an older “driver involved in a blameworthy driving incident could be diverted from prosecution to a stage two driving assessment at a Mobility Centre.”

This 2017 report stated that 4.7 million car drivers were aged 70 and over in the U.K., which was set to rise to 8.5 million within 14 years. Additionally, the number of drivers aged over 85 will double to 1 million by 2025, and “it is vital that we prepare for this demographic change,” argued the report.

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Graph from"Supporting Safe Driving into Old Age" showing age of drivers.Old Drivers Task ForceThe 2017 report describes high car dependence among older people.“The importance of cars, and particularly car driving, is clear,” stated the report. headtopics.com

“From age 40 to over 70 about 70 percent of all journeys are made by car,” points out the report, although it does not delve into why actively designing for such high car dependency might be a poor idea for people and the planet.“Given the role of the car in providing mobility, and hence independence and quality of life, care is needed to avoid well-intentioned initiatives to improve the safety of older drivers from unnecessarily reducing the mobility of older people,” states the report.

Long history of car dependency. Children's traffic playground, 1938. (Photo by Daily Herald... [+]Archive/SSPL/Getty Images)SSPL via Getty ImagesOlder Drivers Task Force chair John Plowman said it would be up to the Department for Transport to decide “which of the recommendations they wish to support and over what timescale.”

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He added: “The Task Force has done all it can for now. But we are ready to help in whatever way we can to support the action now needed to make driving safer for older drivers, a vulnerable and growing sector of our community.”

Read more: Forbes »

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Why Did Headlines Turn Dry Report Into Controversial One Demanding ‘Let Older Drivers Run Red Lights’? U.K. newspapers sex up dull story, claiming inaccurately that older drivers should be allowed to run red lights without being penalized.

Why Did Headlines Turn Dry Report Into Controversial One Demanding ‘Let Older Drivers Run Red Lights’? U.K. newspapers sex up dull story, claiming inaccurately that older drivers should be allowed to run red lights without being penalized.

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