Is there any greater symbol of independence than the motorcar? Whether you are a tiresome ‘petrolhead’, an overstretched parent-come-de facto taxi driver or a pensioner who drives to the supermarket once a week for a ‘big shop’ then you will know the importance of having wheels.
It doesn’t matter how many environmental warnings we are exposed to or how much money is invested in public transport, it is inconceivable that the automobile will go out of fashion any time soon.
Driving has long been perceived as a modern day human right – the right to go where we please, when we please and nothing must stop us from achieving that.
You try telling a motorist that they have no business being on the road and you will soon wish that you falsely accused them of being a sheep worrier. Questioning a man’s ability behind the wheel is a direct challenge to their masculinity.
This is precisely why I wouldn’t do a doctor’s job for all the pies in Wigan. Among all the unpleasant tasks such as the examination of orifices and the handling of bodily fluids I should imagine that telling some people that they are unfit to drive is one of the trickiest challenges imaginable.
At last count there were 37 million drivers in the UK alone and telling a previously independent person that from now one they will have to rely upon the number 57 bus to get them about is a tall order.
Which is why it has come as no surprise to learn that such a significant number of patients deemed unfit to drive just simply ignore that edict.
Although it is impossible to say precisely how many of these unfit motorists are on our roads it is considered such a problem that doctors have been told that they now must report patients who are ignoring their advice not to drive to the DVLA.
The General Medical Council, which has issued the guidelines, recognises that this is “difficult territory” for those its represents because of the almost fabled patient/doctor confidentiality clause.
But this deal is “not absolute” and doctors have long been urged to report patients who pose harm to others and those who run the risk of conking out as they approach 70 miles per hour on the local dual carriageway most definitely fall into that category.
Of course the move by the GMC has prompted fierce debate but I for one would welcome any move to rid our roads of drivers who shouldn’t be there and great steps have been taken to clamp down on the risks posed by drunk drivers, those who are uninsured and the plonkers who insist on having a conversation on the phone while undertaking you, so why shouldn’t pressure be applied to those who are too unwell to drive?
There is an arrogance to some who think their right to take to the open road is God given but it is not a human right to drive a car – it is a human right to live life safe from selfish morons who would rather do us harm than catch the bus.