Call for tougher driving tests after biker hit by 90-year-old’s four-by-four

Robert McQueen, who died after being knocked off his motorbike by Royston Pratt
Robert McQueen, who died after being knocked off his motorbike by Royston Pratt
  • Tributes to Port Solent biker
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A DEVASTATED family has called for tougher rules over elderly people driving cars after a dad-of-four died in a horrific crash.

Robert McQueen died at the scene after a 90-year-old driver, Royston Pratt, turned right at a crossroads and directly into the path of Robert’s on-coming motorbike.

Robert’s family are now calling for compulsory driving tests for the elderly to make sure they are fit to drive.

His sister Sharon Willshire, 45, of West Ashling, near Chichester, said: ‘The DVLA needs to change the rules on older drivers.

‘It’s obvious the older you get, the slower you become.

‘Your hearing is worse, your eyesight, and your reaction time is worse.

‘They should at least have to go out with a driving instructor to make sure they are a safe driver. You should have to pass a test. A car is a lethal weapon.’

Drivers over 70 currently have to complete a self-assessment and tell the DVLA of any medical condition every three years when re-applying for their licence.

Robert leaves behind step-daughter Leah Shade, 19, daughters Abi McQueen, 15, and Holly McQueen, 11, and son, Charlie McQueen, six.

Robert’s ex-wife Jane McQueen, from Selsey, said: ‘Something needs to be done.

‘You can’t just say “I am fit to drive” and they say “yes”.’

They described Robert as a ‘gadget man’ who was ‘everyone’s friend’.

And Jane recalled the heartache of having to tell her daughter Holly on her 11th birthday that her father had died.

Last month Pratt, of Hundred Acres, Wickham, was convicted of causing death by careless driving and was handed an 18-week prison sentence suspended for a year and banned for five years.

An inquest into Robert’s death in Winchester heard the accident happened on the B2177 at the Staplescross crossroads, between Southwick and Wickham, on December 22 last year at about 1.30pm.

Robert, 37, a plumber, of Tintagel Way, Port Solent, was riding his Triumph motorbike on a clear winter’s day as he prepared for an upcoming tour.

David Adamson, from Cowplain, was driving a van towards Boarhunt and remembered a motorbike overtaking him. Robert’s motorbike was travelling at about 60mph, but Mr Adamson said it was under control.

Mr Adamson said: ‘I could see in the distance a four-by-four that looked like it was doing a U-turn in the road. There was a big cloud of steam.’

Philip Parker, who was driving his wife and children, said: ‘As we came up to the junction my wife said “Oh god, he’s come off”.

‘I did not stop because I did not want my children to see what the consequences of the crash would be.’

Pratt had been to a hunt on the Southwick Estate and had borrowed a friend’s Land Rover, which he had used several times before.

He said he indicated to go down the narrow road towards South Boarhunt.

‘The road for me was absolutely bare,’ he told the coroner. I saw nothing at all.’

He then heard a big thud.

‘It took the Land Rover up into the air and spun it around,’ he said.

‘I could see the rider lying in the road.’

There was no evidence Pratt had any sight problems, alcohol in his blood or that he was distracted by a mobile phone.

Simon Brooks, a forensic collision investigator for Hampshire Police, said the motorbike’s lights were on.

A reconstruction took place at the scene and showed there was good contrast between the motorbike and the road. ‘It was there to be seen,’ said Mr Brooks.

Recording a verdict of death by a road traffic collision, coroner Grahame Short said: ‘I believe he (Pratt) did not see the motorcycle at any time.

‘There’s no reason he could give as to why he could not see the motorcycle.’

He said the speed of the motorcycle could have been a factor, adding ‘it was quite a fast speed to be approaching’.