He escaped completely unhurt after flipping his car on its side a few days ago, but now Prince Philip’s crash at Sandringham has sparked a major debate over whether he should have been driving at all at the age of 97.
The Duke of Edinburgh was driving his custom Land Rover Freelander when he hit a Kia, with two women and a baby inside, after pulling out of a junction at around 3pm local time on Thursday. It was widely reported at the time that he had complained about being dazzled by the sun.
Now the shock smash has sparked a wide debate over when it’s time to quit driving, with many over-60s calling for an age limit for older drivers to prevent potential accidents happening in future.
Responding to a poll by Starts at 60, asking whether an age limit should be introduced for people getting behind the wheel, 75 per cent of people voted yes, while 25 per cent believed it was unnecessary.
One reader revealed their shock that the duke was still driving, and admitted they’d want someone to stop them before they get to that age.
“Loss of reflexes long before 97. Concentration is lacking, even a doctor to say they can drive is useless its just an eye test,” they commented. “And yes I’m 60 so I hope someone stops me long before 97 if I don’t have the common sense to stop myself.”
Another agreed and wrote: “Philip’s not broke, he could afford a driver, so why put others at risk just because he wants to keep driving, driving at 97 is ridiculous, it’s not just eyesight that has to be considered here, it’s reflex reactions etc, everyone else would be watching out to avoid him rather than him actually driving adequately that’s why he hasn’t had more accidents.”
However, others claimed the debate shouldn’t be about age but the person’s general health and reflexes. Therefore, instead of introducing a standard age limit, many suggested introducing medical and driving tests at regular intervals throughout older age.
“I think basing the decision on age is wrong,” one reader wrote. “There are people a lot younger than 97 who should be put off the road. I would support regular testing (every 5 or 10 years) after the age of 50. When I look at some of the younger people on the roads maybe we should be retested every license renewal.”
And another agreed, writing: “I think it is driving ability and the speed of a person’s reflexes that are the important factors not the age,” while one more commented: “Not so much age as health, eyesight and the ability to react reasonably in times of danger.”
Despite the outcry from people across the world, Prince Philip was pictured driving a new car without wearing a seatbelt just 48 hours after his accident.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Norfolk Police are now carrying out an investigation and speaking to both the duke and the occupants of the other car involved in the collision, before deciding if any punishments will be handed out.
The investigation is being conducted in the same way as any other traffic collision case, and it’s claimed Philip has already passed a breath and an eye test.
A spokesman for Norfolk Police has since responded to the recent photos of Philip not wearing his seatbelt, and told the news outlet: “We are aware of the photograph. Suitable words of advice have been given to the driver and this is in line with our standard response when being made aware of or receiving such images showing this type of offence.”
While driving without a seatbelt can carry a fine of up to £500 (AU$899), the duke could also face the possibility of being charged with driving without due care and attention if he’s found to be at fault for causing the collision just 48 hours before. That would carry a maximum fine of £5,000, as well as nine points on his licence.
However, a police source told The Telegraph that it’s more likely he would be offered a drivers’ awareness course, which teaches people vital road safety information in a refresher format.
Witnesses who helped the duke out of the car told the BBC he appeared “shocked and shaken” following the crash, which happened after he pulled out of a driveway onto the A149.
A Buckingham Palace statement at the time said: “The Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a road traffic accident with another vehicle this afternoon. The duke was not injured. The accident took place close to the Sandringham Estate. Local police attended the scene.”