Driver's eyesight caused accident

HIGHWAYS chiefs are today being urged to look closely at right-turn gaps on the A12 following the deaths of an elderly Ipswich couple.

HIGHWAYS chiefs are today being urged to look closely at right-turn gaps on the A12 following the deaths of an elderly Ipswich couple.

An inquest though heard that Frederick Hadden's failing eyesight was the main issue in the crash which killed him and his wife Pauline outside Seckford Hall Hotel, near Woodbridge, just two weeks before Christmas.

Greater Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean recorded a verdict of accidental death but said he would be writing to transport secretary Geoff Hoon asking him to review the system whereby people report medical conditions to the DVLA that might affect their ability to drive.

Meanwhile Guy McGregor, county council portfolio holder for roads and transport, said it was still vital to improve safety at the right-turn gaps, where drivers are turning across on-coming traffic.

“With the announcement of major funding for improvements to the A12, this could be an opportune time to review some of the less than satisfactory junctions,” he said.

Mr and Mrs Hadden, both 87, from Crofton Road, Ipswich, were crossing the Woodbridge-bound carriageway in their Ford Fiesta when they were in collision with a Mitsubishi Shogun.

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PC Jeff Cribb said the Mitsubishi was travelling around 40mph but would have been unable to avoid the collision because the Fiesta pulled out when it was just 40m away.

The coroner heard Mr Hadden suffered from Type 2 diabetes and there had long been concerns about his eyesight, described as “very poor”.

In a statement, Richard Goble, consultant eye surgeon at Heath Road, said Mr Hadden's vision was so bad that when he was asked to read the letters on the chart he could only read the letter on the top line.

Mr Goble said he assumed Mr Hadden - who was due to have an operation in his right eye in early 2009 to remove a haemorrhage - had been told he should not drive.

But following investigations after the crash it emerged the DVLA, which was aware of his diabetes, had renewed his licence in 2002 and subsequently every three years.

Dr Dean said: “There are concerns with respect to Mr Hadden's eyesight. I will be writing to the transport minister in respect to the issues that have arisen from this inquest about the need to look at the system whereby people report visual problems or other medical problems to the DVLA.”

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