Police urged to increase use of Cassie’s Law to prevent more deaths
PUBLISHED: 19:00 10 July 2015
The bereaved family of a teenager killed by an 87-year-old driver has welcomed the prevention of further fatalities because of road safety measures triggered by her death.
But they are keen for the new powers to be used more often and by more police forces.
Cassie McCord, a former Sandringham School student, died after suffering fatal head injuries when a car driven by Colin Horsfall mounted the pavement twice and crashed into her and another pedestrian in Colchester, Essex, in February 2011.
It later emerged at an inquest into the teenager’s death that just three days before striking Cassie, Horsfall had entered a supermarket filling station in Colchester the wrong way, via the exit, mounted the kerb and collided with some trees.
Although back then the Essex Police had no power to temporarily take Horsfall’s licence away, officers had advised him against driving.
Horsfall told police at the scene of his collision with Cassie that he had put his foot on the accelerator pedal instead of the brake.
Cassie’s brother, Sam, said at the time that his sister would still be alive if the police had had the power to withhold Horsfall’s licence after his first crash.
Her tragic death prompted Sam and the siblings’ mum, Jackie, to launch a campaign, named Cassie’s Law, to have legislation introduced whereby police couldd temporarily suspend the driving licence of motorists they believe were unfit to drive.
The 15-month campaign, which saw more than 45,000 signatures collected for a petition to Westminster, resulted in a beefing up of police powers, and the closure of a road safety loophole.
New measures introduced in 2013 make it quicker for licences to be revoked by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA).
This means that drivers identified as posing a danger behind the wheel can immediately be taken off roads.
Yet figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request show that Herts Police have used the new measures just eight times since the introduction of Cassie’s Law.
Essex Police, however, have used it over six times more than their Hertfordshire counterparts, by making 51 requests to the DVLA.
What you should know:
• Recent figures from the DVLA show there are 4.3 million drivers aged 70 and over, with that figure rising by 220,000 every year.
• Drivers must notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) of the onset or worsening of a medical condition which affects their ability to drive.
• A spokesman for the DVLA said that doctors and police could also notify it about a driver’s suspected health problems which it would “investigate urgently”.
• Notifiable conditions are anything that could affect your ability to drive safely such as visual impairments, strokes or mental health conditions.
• You could be fined up to £1,000 if you do not tell the authority about a condition that might affect your ability to drive safety.
• Motorists could also be prosecuted if they have an accident.
• All drivers over 70 have to renew their licence every three years.
• Age alone is not a reliable indicator of a person’s fitness to drive and the vast majority of older people continue to drive safely.
• If there’s evidence a driver does not meet the appropriate medical standard the DVLA can immediately remove their entitlement to drive.
While locally the use of Cassie’s Law has been low compared to Essex, it has been greater than many others forces, some of which have used the new powers only twice over the same period.
However Jackie applauded the response so far, saying: “All those revoked licences could have been deaths prevented.
“One death avoided is a great result for all the work that we did but at the same time I’m a bit disappointed it doesn’t seem to have been used far and wide.”
Sam thanked all of those who have supported the campaign and the subsequent safety measures which were brought in, adding that he too would like to see Cassie’s Law used more often, including in Herts.