A 12 year old child was killed this week in Kaohshiung, Taiwan. He and his mother were on a scooter stopped at an intersection. They, along with several other people, were run over by an SUV that did not stop at the light. The driver claims to have had an epileptic seizure, yet was still allowed to hold a license and drive.
September 6, 2017
A 12 year-old boy has died of injuries sustained last Friday when the driver of an SUV smashed into vehicles stopped at a level crossing in Kaohsiung. Thirteen people were reported injured in the accident, but the boy, named Yang, was the only one to sustain serious injuries.
At 7:26am Friday, September 1, a woman driving an SUV plowed through scooters stopped at a the level crossing, crashed through the crossing barriers, then continued for another 400 meters before crashing into two cars and finally stopping.
A total of 17 vehicles were damaged.
The 45 year-old driver named Zhan claimed that she suffered from epilepsy and must have had a seizure. Zhan said she had no recollection of the accident.
In many countries, drivers with epilepsy must prove that, with medication, they have not had a seizure within a certain amount of time (as little as 3 months in parts of the US, as long as 3 years in the UK, with one year the average). In motorsports, having epilepsy is a ten year or lifetime ban.
(I’m posting under the assumption that the driver was telling the truth. There are many incidents in Taiwan where drivers have ploughed right through pedestrians and scooters, committed or tried to commit hit and runs. I’ve seen a few with my own eyes.)
Many people mistakenly believe that “driving is a right”. It is not, it is a privilege that can be revoked, and it should be revoked more often. Pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers have a right to be safe, and that right trumps the privilege of any and all drivers.
The most common response to this is “What about personal freedumb?” as if one person’s mobility were more important than the risk they pose to others. “What about commuting to work?” If the government is going to ban drivers, then it should accommodate them in some way – mass transit, help renters move, etc. But the safety of others – the right to safety – has to come first.
Drivers should be retested annually. Not relicensed (pay a fee without a test, get a new card), I mean retested, forced to prove they can drive safely, and if they can’t, they lose their license for a specific amount of time (3 months to a year). Too expensive or onerous? No more than insuring every car. And if getting retested drops your insurance premiums by 10%, it pays for itself.
Drivers with road rage and arrogant attitudes (“I’m a great driver!” as they cut off other cars) are often more dangerous than drunk drivers because they are always that way. They develop bad habits over years or decades because they are never retested, only relicensed. Taking away their privilege is the only way they will learn. Drivers should be removed from the road if they can’t drive safely, whether due to aggressive driving, poor eyesight, a loss of mental faculties (temporary or permanent) or any other reason.