We at RoadPeace are reeling from the comments made by Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings’ actions. The news broke earlier this week that Cummings went for a drive to ‘test his eyesight’ before completing a longer drive. Some of our members will have lost loved ones due to drivers with poor eyesight. Most of our members have been affected by dangerous and careless driving.
That senior government officials believe this is OK shows how they tolerate road danger, and is an insult to all who have been bereaved or injured.
A valued member whose brother was killed in a crash has written an open letter to MPs. We urge you to do the same, so that those in power understand that these actions are not permissible.
I feel that I really must write to you in order to express my despair at the comments of Dominic Cummings, followed by the comments of Michael Gove – in regards to taking a drive in order to test out their eyesight. I could not believe my ears when Mr Cummings excused his trip to Barnard Castle as him needing to ensure he was safe to do the longer trip back to London. It is simple common sense that you do not go for a drive in order to ensure your eyesight is ok. There have been many occasions where drivers with poor eyesight have killed or seriously injured other road users, so this was an appalling excuse to give. However, to then hear Michael Gove seeming to say he has done similar, and cannot claim to be an authority on driving, was really alarming. I do not believe that you need to be an authority on anything at all, to know that driving if you even suspect your vision is impaired, is extremely silly and risks lives.
I really feel these comments to be offensive to road crash victims and to belittle the importance of safe driving and the awful impact which careless and dangerous driving has. That a cabinet minister feels this is appropriate leaves me flabbergasted – why is driving in a careless or dangerous manner often viewed as something which is a bit of a joke? To be clear, I doubt very much Mr Cummings’ journey was to test his eyes, but the very fact that this has been viewed by some of those in senior positions within the government, as an adequate excuse is deeply distressing. Members of RoadPeace, along with many other road safety charities, work incredibly hard to highlight the need to be a responsible driver – and it seems that Mr Cummings and Mr Gove have very much undermined this message.
I think it is important to make MPs aware of the reasons why we find these comments insensitive. I would like to ask you to consider this from the position of those of us who give so much to campaigning for safer roads – driving is not an automatic right but a privilege.