Saturday 29 April 2017

Father of man killed by elderly motorist says, 'test drivers every ten years'

The scene of the fatal road accident on the N2 between Castleblayney and Carrickmacross in Co. Monaghan, in which father-of-five Mark Downey died.
The scene of the fatal road accident on the N2 between Castleblayney and Carrickmacross in Co. Monaghan, in which father-of-five Mark Downey died.
Father-of-five Mark Downey, from Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, was killed when his motorbike collided with an SUV. Stock Picture
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The father of a man killed by an elderly driver has called for all motorists to be tested every ten years.

Father-of-five Mark Downey, from Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, was killed when his motorbike collided with an SUV in Co Monaghan in July 2014.

The driver of the car, a man in his 70s, was later convicted of dangerous driving.

Speaking to RTE Liveline on Radio One on Friday Mark’s father Peter said he feels “very strongly” about the driving test.

“Our cars are tested every two years for road worthiness. Our drivers sit a road test and they get a licence and they never have to sit another test after that. And yet the driver is probably the most dangerous item in the vehicle.

“From that point of view I think we should be looking at tests every ten years and as we get older on a more regular basis.”

He said the test to renew your licence at 70 is not sufficient. under current guidelines drivers over 70 need a certification of fitness to drive by a doctor to apply for a 3-year or a one-year licence.

Mr Downey said the man who was driving the car that struck Mark completed his renewal test just weeks before the crash in 2014.

“Mark just happened to be very, very unlucky. He was a very stable young man who had high standards and he just happened to meet a man at the time who was elderly and who had low standards.”

He said there would be a large benefit to more regualr testing for drivers.

“We have reached a point where people develop bad habits, they develop aggression. These should be detected and checked out every ten years as people go through the stages of life.”

He said the test would be beneficial because sometimes people may be doing things “unawares to themselves”.

He suggested checking the reactions of older people using virtual reality suites.

“Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we went through a period of time where deaths on the road were reduced to a very minimum?”

Mr Downey told host Joe Duffy that in their victim impact statement to the court they asked the judge not to send the man to prison because there was “nothing to be gained” from this.

Instead they asked that the man contribute a “sizeable sum” to the National Rehabilitation Hospital.

The judge gave the man the option of ten years in prison or make the contribution. Mr Downey said the man chose to donate the cash.

The grieving father said: “I would just love some politician to take a serious look at this because we can move forward and we can save lives.”

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