‘Cassie’s Law’ for drivers in memory of former St Albans girl

Sam McCord holds the petition which prompted a change in the law

Sam McCord holds the petition which prompted a change in the law - Credit: Archant

THE tragic death of a former St Albans girl who was shockingly mown down on a pavement by an 87-year-old motorist has resulted in the closure of a road safety loophole.

From this week, police officers have the power to immediately suspend the driving licences of those who fail eyesight tests, the Department for Transport has confirmed.

The beefing-up of police powers follows a 15-month campaign by St Albans man Sam McCord, whose 16-year-old sister Cassie McCord died in the collision.

The introduction of the measure coincides with the two-year anniversary of the death of the former Sandringham School pupil.

The teenager died after suffering fatal head injuries after being hit by a car that mounted a footpath she was walking along in Colchester, Essex, on February 7, 2011.

It later emerged that police had tried unsuccessfully to dissuade the 87-year-old motorist, Colin Horsfall, who has since died, from driving following an earlier collision.

An inquest into Cassie’s death was told that just three days before she was struck, Horsfall had mistaken the pedals as he drove in to a supermarket filling station and crashed into trees.

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However the police had no power to remove Horsfall’s licence.

The McCord family launched a campaign, named Cassie’s Law, to have legislation introduced whereby police can temporarily suspend the driving licence of motorists they believe are unfit to drive.

More than 45,000 signatures were collected, including in St Albans, and presented to Westminster.

Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond thanked the McCords for their “valuable work in raising awareness of this issue”.

He added: “The DVLA and the police have worked closely to greatly streamline the process for revoking a licence when the police identify that a driver’s eyesight is inadequate.

“The decision whether to revoke a driving licence on medical grounds remains with the DVLA, though the process for informing drivers that their licence has been revoked has now been accelerated.”

Sam described the change as “a start”.

He added: “Because of what is now in place with the loophole being closed, people’s lives will be saved.

“It is not yet the end of what we are hoping to achieve as there are still parts of the law, such as retesting, that need to be looked into further.

“However had this particular issue been dealt with sooner, the accident involving Cassie would not have happened and she would still be alive.”

Sam added that he and his mum Jackie wanted to “thank everyone who signed the petition, supported us and gave up their time to go out to the towns and cities to get signatures.

“Without all of them, none of this would have been possible, and people’s lives would still be at risk.”

St Albans MP Anne Main said: “This is a sensible way forward to ensure that people’s safety is not compromised by terrible accidents like the one that has so harmed the McCord family.

“I pay tribute to all the family who have fought hard to get these changes in place so that other families will not have to suffer as they have.”

Police representatives also hailed the move, as previously officers had to send details of licences through the post for a suspension to be implemented, which took the DVLA two days to process.

Now, action can be taken by email Monday to Friday, with the DVLA to make a decision within hours rather than days.