Selfish drivers risking another Natalie tragedy

Selfish drivers risking another Natalie tragedy

Selfish drivers risking another Natalie tragedy

First published in News

EIGHT years ago Natalie Wade was crossing the road when a driver passed through a red light, knocked her down and killed her.

Natalie, 28, from Rochford, was shopping for her wedding dress with her mum Christine Gutberlet when John Thorpe, 78, hit her.

Ever since, her family have been campaigning for the law to be changed to ensure all drivers to have regular eye tests.

Almost a decade later, latest figures show the problem is as bad as ever.

Brake, the road safety charity, today released figures which showed a quarter of drivers have not had their eyes tested in more than two years.

This is despite research showing people can lose up to 40 per cent of their vision before noticing the difference.

The Rev Brenda Gutberlet, from Canvey, Natalie’s aunt, said the family were shocked nothing had changed after so many years.

She said: “Natalie was a wonderful, bubbly young woman, full of life and laughter.

“She was lovely to be around.

The years since her death have been a rollercoaster, for Natalie’s parents and for all her family and friends.”

Mr Thorpe, 78, was blind in one eye and had 40 defects in the other. He died of natural causes before any court proceedings could take place.

Natalie had been using a pelican crossing when Thorpe drove through a red light and into her.

Her mum, who was also left with a broken pelvis.

Ms Gutberlet said she wanted the Government to introduce a law for all drivers to have a recent valid eye test when reapplying for their licence and at least every ten years after.

She said: “Natalie’s death, like so many on our roads, was completely avoidable.

“The question every driver should ask before they get behind the wheel is: am I fit to drive today? But not everyone is honest with themselves.”

The survey also found more than 1.5 million UK drivers, or 4 per cent, have never had their eyes tested and one in eight, or 12 per cent, have not had their eyes tested for more than five years.

Themeasure used to test driver vision is the number plate test carried out from 20 metres away before driving tests.

It is estimated up to five million UK drivers would fail a number-plate test if they had totake it again Rebecca Harris, Tory MP for Castle Point, has been supporting the family’s campaign and continually called on the Government to address the situation.

She said: “These survey results are genuinely shocking.

“It’s clear public awareness of how important this issue is remains frighteningly low.

“We need drivers to see getting behind the wheel without regular eye tests, or without wearing the prescription lenses they need, as being as irresponsible as drink-driving.”

Brake is urging the Government to introduce a requirement for drivers to prove a recent, professional eye test when applying for a provisional licence, and at least every ten years thereafter.

It’s estimated this would save the public purse at least £6.7million a year by preventing crashes. Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, said: “Compulsory regular eyesight testing for drivers is a common sense, lifesaving move.

“The Government needs to act to tackle the alarming number of drivers taking a lax approach to their eyes.”

Mark Christer, managing director of personal insurance at RSA, said: “We want far more rigorous checks that drivers’ eyesight meets the minimum standards.

“The UK’s number-plate test is a relic of the Thirties and it’s no wonder so many other EU countries have introduced more modern testing.

“It is time we did too.”

Comments (4)

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10:32am Fri 22 Aug 14

scrounger‎ says...

Career Criminal wrote:
I ask myself that 'am I fit to drive' after I come out the pub pisssed every Friday night and get into my car.
Not much of a criminal if you can only afford Friday night.
[quote][p][bold]Career Criminal[/bold] wrote: I ask myself that 'am I fit to drive' after I come out the pub pisssed every Friday night and get into my car.[/p][/quote]Not much of a criminal if you can only afford Friday night. scrounger‎
  • Score: -7

11:49am Fri 22 Aug 14

Keptquiettillnow says...

A selfish driver, surely some mistake there.
A selfish driver, surely some mistake there. Keptquiettillnow
  • Score: -6

1:54pm Fri 22 Aug 14

297595 says...

I don't think an eye test has much to do with it, bright red/green lights are quite easy to distinguish regardless of how bad your eyes are.

I think instead, drivers need to pay more attention in general.
I don't think an eye test has much to do with it, bright red/green lights are quite easy to distinguish regardless of how bad your eyes are. I think instead, drivers need to pay more attention in general. 297595
  • Score: 9

10:19pm Sat 23 Aug 14

Robin Reliant says...

297595 wrote:
I don't think an eye test has much to do with it, bright red/green lights are quite easy to distinguish regardless of how bad your eyes are.

I think instead, drivers need to pay more attention in general.
yes especially ones that are blind in 1 eye and the other partially good eye has 40 defects in it and should never have been on the road,yes of course we need these extra eye tests, could have been you, your kids, wife, mum , dad,anyone of us on that crossing that day.
[quote][p][bold]297595[/bold] wrote: I don't think an eye test has much to do with it, bright red/green lights are quite easy to distinguish regardless of how bad your eyes are. I think instead, drivers need to pay more attention in general.[/p][/quote]yes especially ones that are blind in 1 eye and the other partially good eye has 40 defects in it and should never have been on the road,yes of course we need these extra eye tests, could have been you, your kids, wife, mum , dad,anyone of us on that crossing that day. Robin Reliant
  • Score: 0
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