The family of a Stapleford man who died in a crash with an 87-year-old travelling the wrong way on the M1 want older people to undergo regular driving tests as a mandatory requirement.
In a report which airs on BBC One East Midlands tonight (Monday) at 7.30pm, the family of Michael Luciw open up publicly for the first time since the devastating crash.
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Speaking exclusively to Inside Out, his family describe Mr Luciw as generous, kind-hearted and a lover of practical jokes.
They believe changes to the law are needed to avoid similar tragedies.
“It doesn’t feel as if we have lost him - it feels as if he has been taken away from us,” said Mr Luciw’s brother Simon.
“There are so many things that should be put in place so things like this could be avoided. People are driving that shouldn’t be on the road. The older you get, the more your reactions slow down. There needs to be some sort of test introduced, in a car with a driving instructor, so you get a true reflection of how good a driver you are.”
Mr Luciw, a delivery driver, was on a long-distance journey with colleague Andy Harrington when the crash happened at 2am on October 12 near Kegworth, Leicestershire.
Arthur Newman’s car was heading north on the southbound carriageway. Mr Harrington, who was driving the Ford Transit, said he had not seen Mr Newman’s car until the last second.
“I managed to swerve slightly towards the crash barrier but there was nothing I could do,” he said. “You couldn’t even blink that fast. It lives with me. I still get sleepless nights. It’s not something I will ever forget.”
Mr Harrington, who suffered serious injuries in the crash, said retired drivers should have to undergo medical examinations.
“It’s up to the Government whether they listen to us,” he said. “But if that driver hadn’t been on the road that morning, Michael would still be here with his daughter.”
The programme sees former Top Gear presenter and car enthusiast, Angela Rippon, 71, go on to investigate how much driving ability deteriorates with age.
She said: “I still do an awful lot of driving myself and I own four cars so I’m used to driving a lot of different vehicles. I think it’s important this film demonstrates that the majority of older drivers are still safe on the road and it does contradict a lot of the stereotypes.”
Last year for every 10,000 young drivers, 47 had an accident - for middle aged-drivers that number was just 16 and for drivers over 70 - it was just 12.
Dr Shaun Helman – a transport psychologist - tells Inside Out: “When you present older drivers with a sudden road hazard they are slower to respond. But because they’re driving more slowly and more cautiously in the first place – the safety margin they leave is actually bigger. So even though they don’t react as quickly – they’re still safer. They’re managing the risk appropriately by driving in an appropriate way.”
The area some older drivers do struggle with is failing to look properly at junctions, 28 per cent of accidents involving older drivers are caused by this. For drivers under 70 – it is just 18 per cent.
- Inside Out airs on BBC One East Midlands tonight at 7.30pm and is available on BBC iPlayer for 30 days after that.