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A404 dementia crash: Charlotte Pitwell’s family pleas for law change
LAWMAKERS need to re-examine the rules on elderly motorists’ fitness to drive, coroner Richard Hulett says after the accident which claimed Charlotte Pitwell’s life.
The 19 year-old's grieving family have made an emotional plea to Prime Minister David Cameron to change the law after the crash last September.
Stanley Tomlinson, who was 89 at the time, drove the wrong direction on the Marlow bypass and collided with the car she was in.
He was later found to have dementia.
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The Pitwell family slammed the current rules which allowed someone with Mr Tomlinson’s impairment to continue driving untested.
Mr Hulett said: “It is the case that many people want to continue with their independence but sometimes it goes beyond the point at which it should.
“As far as I’m aware there’s been no political will.
“Hearing a case like this when a young person of 19 years and with prospects ahead of her has died like this you have to think that politicians and others of influence should turn their thoughts to what should happen.”
Father Andrew Pitwell, 42, a lorry driver from High Wycombe, said: “He was 89 years old, It was an accident waiting to happen.
“The law needs to be looked into and have a doctor’s regulation rather than a self regulation. The doctor is going to make sure he does the right thing, that’s what the law needs.
“It takes things like this to get the ball rolling.”
He said he will take his campaign to the highest echelons and had this message for David Cameron: “Look into the law and realise it’s hard to get a licence, but once you’ve got it it’s easy to keep it.
“If you are sick and at that age, you are a time bomb.
“I hope Mr Cameron reads the Bucks Free Press. It was Charlotte but it could have been a lot of people that night.
“I just want to add I miss her deeply.”
Grandmother Stella Pitwell echoed her son’s comments, imploring politicians to change the law.
A tearful Mrs Pitwell added: “We’ve now somehow got to get on with the rest of our lives without Charlotte.”
Wycombe MP Steve Baker said: “I’ve already instructed my researcher to find out exactly the state of the law as it is today and if the Pitwells would like to contact me I’m very happy to meet them and discuss the best way forward.
“In the meantime, all my staff and I would join the public in sending them our condolences in this tragic situation.”
He said, if necessary he will lobby Ministers, for a change in the law, once he has fully researched the current legislation.
The DVLA said there are no plans to introduce restrictions on driving based on age and there are no plans to re-test drivers either.
Currently, letters are sent to drivers before their 70th birthday, inviting them to reapply for their licence.
They are issued with a medical questionnaire. It works on a self declaration basis.
Drivers over 70 then have to reapply every three years. If any medical conditions are declared, the DVLA will consider whether to revoke a licence or seek medical records and may even request another test is taken.
Everyone regardless of age has a legal responsibility to declare at any time any onset of a health condition which may affect their driving and failure to do so is a criminal offence, the DVLA said.