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Call to overhaul driver medical fitness rules

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Road safety organisation, GEM Motoring Assist is calling for new ways of assessing whether a driver is medically fit to hold a licence.

The call supports the latest report issued by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), which criticises current approaches to assessing driver medical fitness.

GEM is urging individual drivers to ensure they take responsibility for their own safety and fitness to drive. Family members should also be wise to the early signs of unsafe driving in their senior relatives, says GEM.

The starting point for establishing fitness to drive in the UK – and in many other European countries – is still an assessment based on age, despite studies showing that specific medical conditions, substance abuse, mental disorders, epilepsy and diabetes are also important factors when it comes to medical fitness to drive, according to GEM.

Neil Worth, GEM chief executive, said: “This report confirms that mandatory age-based screening of older drivers is ineffective in preventing severe collisions.

"It is concerning that the only requirement in law for anyone aged over 70 is to declare every three years that they are fit to drive.”

GEM says that an age-based self-certification system should be replaced by regular medical examinations for drivers of all ages, with checks on eyesight, hearing, vision, and blood pressure.

Worth added: “However, in the absence of an effective re-testing framework, it’s vital that we each take responsibility for our own safety.

“We want as many people as possible to enjoy the freedom of the open road as drivers, but safety must be the priority.”

GEM also warned fleet managers of the 'increased likelihood' of distracted driving when drivers get behind the wheel again amid the lifting of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

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