Driving assessment

Bournemouth pensioner upset about having his driving license withdrawn

A PENSIONER from Bournemouth says his independence is lost after losing his driving license following a failed assessment – but insists he can prove he is a competent driver.

George Prince, 86, believes he was ‘stitched up’ by motoring authorities who revoked his driving license after a report found him to be a dangerous driver.

Last year, while driving on Castle Lane West in Bournemouth, George was involved in an accident with another vehicle after he missed a traffic light change from green to red. No one was injured and he took responsibility for the accident.

Dorset Police gave the father-of-two the option of going to court or taking a ‘fitness to drive’ assessment by Wessex Driveability, an accredited Driving Mobility organization used by the police.

Following the review, Wessex Driveability gave George a MoCA (Montreal Cognitive Assessment) score of 24/30, two below what is considered normal, and was described as ‘dangerous’ in the report by conduct.

However, the Springvale Avenue resident questioned the veracity of the report. He told the Echo: “I was in two, that doesn’t make me a bad driver because on another day I could have got the best score. But there are several anomalies in their report that I dispute.

In George’s report, the evaluator wrote, “On several occasions, evaluator intervention on the steering wheel to maintain safety was required.” Of this, a furious George said: “[The assessor] never put a finger on the steering wheel. Yes [they] had, I would have stopped the car – it’s just a blatant lie.

“From the start, I feel like they decided I was going to be dangerous. I don’t think I had the chance.

The DVLA, after receiving the report from Wessex Driveability, chose to revoke George’s license after 60 years of driving.

Furious with the decision, George asked for other opinions. It underwent an assessment with IAM RoadSmart and was rated as “excellent” or “competent” in each of the 12 assessment points.

Bournemouth pensioner George Prince with his Wessex Driveability and IAM RoadSmart reports

A requirement for reapplying for a license with the DLVA is to provide a medical examination report from a physician. George was later seen by his doctor, scoring 27/30 on the MoCA screening and full scores on a mental state examination scale.

George described these two reports as “evidence” that he can still be a safe driver.

“I’m losing my temper, I’m afraid,” he said. “I’m stuck and I don’t know what to do. I don’t sleep well because I keep waking up thinking about what happened, it’s still in my head.

“I feel like my independence is lost. I may be 86, but I feel like I still have five or ten years ahead of me, and the last thing I want is I’m not allowed to drive – which I love, and I know I can do.

Rachel Odell, center director for Wessex Driveability, sympathized with George’s plight but defended the assessment process.

She said: “We have two assessors, an occupational therapist taking detailed notes on a very strict scoring sheet and a driver assessor.

Echo of Bournemouth: Photo: PixabayPhoto: Pixabay

“He was two points below normal on the cognitive test which is always a pretty good score and we never make assumptions based on the test because we’ve seen people get low scores on that and then drive well. This was not the case with Mr. Prince.

“Part of our impartiality is having two decision makers, it’s a collective response and the decision was made collectively.”

Ms Odell also said that although the test result was “unfortunate” they would be happy to welcome George in the future.

According to figures from Wessex Driveability, 89 percent of people aged 70 to 75 are considered safe. It reduces to 69 percent for 81 to 85 year olds, which is then almost halved for 86 to 90 year olds who have only one 37 percentage of success.

A DVLA spokesperson said: ‘When considering an application for the issuance of a driving licence, we aim to make a decision as quickly as possible. However, more complex transactions, for example if medical investigations are required, will take longer.

“When we need additional information from the driver’s doctor or the driver themselves, we are entirely dependent on receiving that information before a decision can be made.”