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Transport / Councillor who had licence revoked on medical grounds issues road safety reminder

Councillor Robbie McGregor. Photo: Andrew Gibson/Millgaet Media

A LOCAL councillor who has had his driving licence revoked due to health issues says it is “imperative” that people’s eyesight and fitness to drive is checked regularly.

Robbie McGregor, who is 77, said he was “absolutely gutted” to have lost his licence – but added that he may not have driven anyway for safety reasons.

He suffered a stroke a year ago, and he recently had a post-stroke fit.

“I was advised [after the fit] not to drive for a year,” McGregor told Shetland News. “So I notified the DVLA and my licence has been revoked.”

He is the chairperson of the local road safety advisory panel, and said he has concerns about drivers aged over 70 who have problems with their health – particularly their vision.

“I would encourage any relatives that have got concerns about somebody in that position to try to get them off the road,” he said.

“I’m very concerned that there might be other people who are not safe.”

McGregor, who represents the Shetland South ward, said he would like to see eye tests mandatory for over-70s, and also spoke up for the idea of driver assessments.

But on the other side of the coin, he said he accepts that people may need a car in places like Shetland to access essential services such as the local shop.

As a result he raised the idea of a “limited licence” being available to the some elderly folk – but he is aware this would require legislation to be modified.

“I recognise that somebody living on their own in the country…it would be a tremendous disadvantage if they weren’t allowed to drive,” McGregor said.

“So this would require a change in the law. I’m just wondering if a limited driving licence might be the answer to the problem.”

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Using the example of driving in a city being much different to somewhere in Shetland like Yell, he added: “I would have thought it would be reasonable to limit their driving to a specific area.

“I don’t know if what I’m talking about is possible or not, but I’m merely suggesting it might be something worth considering.”

McGregor said “absolutely gutted” doesn’t come close to describing how he felt to have his licence taken away from him.

“Years ago I passed all the advanced driving tests, and I actually was an instructor for a while,” he said.

“But to be honest even if my licence hadn’t been revoked, the thought of having another fit and passing out and harming a kid on Sound Brae or worse, means that I probably wouldn’t have driven anyway.”

McGregor also said he is lucky given that his wife is able to drive him around.

Once people reach 70 they must renew their licence every three years.

It is the law that all drivers must ensure that they are medically fit to drive and to notify the DVLA of the onset or worsening of a medical condition that could affect this.

A spokesperson for the UK Government’s Department For Transport said all drivers must meet the vision standards for driving at all times and are legally obliged to notify the DVLA if they are unable to do so.

“We have some of the safest roads in the world, and we will keep licensing standards up to date to make sure everyone can use our roads safely, confidently and with peace of mind,” they added.

The government supports the NHS recommendation that adults should have their eyes tested every two years.

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