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After a Crash, Prince Philip, 97, Stokes Debate on Older Drivers

On Thursday afternoon, he was pulling off a private road and either onto or across a public motorway known for accidents, with its 60 mile-per-hour speed limit and scary bends. Local lawmakers, who coincidentally met on Friday to discuss the road’s safety, lowered the speed to 50 m.p.h.

As the British tabloids chronicled in graphic cartoon mock-ups of the crash site, the prince’s car turned over, he was rescued through the sunroof, and had to submit to a breathalyzer test.

Hugh Bladon, 77, a spokesman for the Alliance of British Drivers and a proud older driver, said another alliance member familiar with the road had told him he could understand how the sun may have blinded the prince.

“Obviously, everyone’s going to jump on the age bandwagon,” he said. “But age actually is nothing to do with skill.”

British law requires drivers at age 70 to start self-reporting medical issues related to their fitness for the road every three years. The Older Drivers Task Force recommended the government raise the age to 75, but also start requiring an eyesight test, a more accurate barometer of any problems.

Britain instituted driving tests only in 1935, but it is unclear if Prince Philip, who joined the Royal Navy at 18, took one. The royal palace, though, confirmed on Friday that he had a license. The queen, on the other hand, as the person in whose name British licenses are issued, is the only Briton who can drive without one.

British lawyers said there was a chance Prince Philip could be charged with driving without due care and attention, though he could also possibly avoid charges by voluntarily surrendering his license.

There were hints on Friday, though, that the prince would not give up quite so easily. A replacement Land Rover was seen by British photographers being driven onto the grounds of his estate, under the watchful eye of the police.

Source: NYT > World

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