The parents of a three year old girl killed in a traffic collision by a pensioner who was told his eyesight made him unfit to drive have launched a campaign to change the law.
Poppy-Arabella Clarke’s parents formally began their campaign as new research revealed that 82% of people agree medical professionals should legally have to report drivers who are unfit to get behind the wheel.
Poppy-Arabella died when John Place drove into her and her mother Rachel after driving through a red light. He had been told by two optometrists that his eye sight was so poor that he was unsafe to drive and was jailed for four years last year.
Health professionals, including doctors and optometrists, currently do not have to report patients to the DVLA if they believe they should not be driving.
But research carried out by law firm Slater and Gordon, which represents Poppy-Arabella’s parents, overwhelmingly supported their call to change the law to protect people from unsafe motorists, including more stringent and regular eye tests. The survey of more than 2,000 people was carried out by the law firm after representing a number of clients killed or injured by medically unfit drivers.
Only 22% knew that doctors and optometrists do not have to report their patients to the DVLA when they are medically unfit to drive.
Poppy-Arabella’s mother Rachel, who was seriously injured in the crash in which her daughter died, said: “We love and miss little Poppy so very much, our hearts and those of her friends and community broke the day she died. She was, and always will be, so very loved.
“We waited for the green man to be illuminated, checked both ways and crossed correctly, to be struck on the crossing by Mr Place who failed to stop. Mr Place had failed his eyesight test weeks earlier whilst wearing his glasses and then did not put those glasses on the day he drove through the red light, having left them at home. I woke up in the gutter to the realisation that my little girl was lying inches away from me devastatingly injured. Little Poppy-Arabella died later that evening.”
The research found one in seven of those questioned knew somebody they believed was unsafe to drive for medical reasons, but still get behind the wheel. While 36% took action to prevent their loved one from driving straight away over a third did nothing to stop them.
Concerned relatives say they have fought with family members and friends over whether they should drive or not, carried out chores for them so they didn’t get behind the wheel and even hidden their car keys.
One in 12 of respondents said they suffered from a medical condition that was currently causing them problems with driving, while a further one in eight said they had a condition that they thought would cause them difficulties with driving in the future.
More than eight in 10 believe that everyone should have an on obligatory eye test at the age of 70 while a third believe all motorists should have to retake their driving test at the same age.
But it is not just the over 70s who should have regular eye tests, with 84% of people saying that all motorists should have regular examinations, with almost a quarter believing drivers should undergo one every year.
In this video, Poppy-Arabella’s parents share their tragic story and plea for help in getting the law changed to ensure no one else suffers as they have.