Woman is calling for elderly drivers to be given eye tests

Woman whose cyclist father, 70, died after he was knocked off his bike by an 82-year-old driver who couldn’t see 10 FEET in front of him is calling for eye tests for elderly drivers

  • Jim Tassell, 70, suffered a fatal head injury after he was catapulted off his bicycle
  • Driver Peter Gardner, 82, had collided with the back of the bicycle 
  • Southampton Crown Court heard he could only see 10ft in front of him
  • Mr Tassell’s daughter Emma Damen is campaigning for a change in eye testing 

A woman whose father died after an 82-year-old motorist drove into him is campaigning for a change in the law after it was revealed the motorist’s poor eyesight meant he could only see 10ft in front of him.  

Jim Tassell, 70, suffered a fatal head injury after he was catapulted off his bicycle on a country lane in his hometown of Andover, Hampshire, on July 23 last year, when 82-year-old Peter Gardner’s car collided into the back of him.

Earlier this month, Gardner, of Whitchurch, Hampshire, was jailed for six months for causing death by careless driving after Salisbury Crown Court heard he could ‘only read a registration plate at three metres away’ – as opposed to the required 20m.

Jim Tassell

Peter Gardner

Jim Tassell, 70, left, suffered a fatal head injury after he was catapulted off his bicycle on a country lane in his hometown of Andover, Hampshire, on July 23 last year, when 82-year-old Peter Gardner’s car collided into the back of him. Right, Peter Gardner at court 

Jim's daughter Emma Damen is campaigning for a change in law to require eyesight tests for drivers over 70 who are seeking to renew their driving licence. Pictured, with her father and brother, Ben

Jim’s daughter Emma Damen is campaigning for a change in law to require eyesight tests for drivers over 70 who are seeking to renew their driving licence. Pictured, with her father and brother, Ben 

Passing the sentence, Judge Andrew Barnett said: ‘It seems to me that your recklessness and foolishness are quite obvious when you weren’t seeing properly.’

His daughter Emma Damen, 50, said: ‘Angry doesn’t even describe how I feel. If you know your eyesight is that poor, how can you be so arrogant and selfish to just get in the car anyway?

‘Without a doubt, my dad would have lived well into his 90s, if it wasn’t for his selfish decision to get in that car.’

Now Emma is campaigning for a change in law to require eyesight tests for drivers over 70 who are seeking to renew their driving licence.

‘All I am asking is that when you get to 70 and renew your licence, you should have an eyesight test,’ she said.

‘There needs to also be an onus on doctors and opticians to inform the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) when someone’s health or eyesight deteriorates to the point that they are not fit to decide.

'Fit and healthy' Mr Tassell was out on his regular route when Gardner collided into the back of his bike. Pictured, Jim playing with his grandchildren in 2013

‘Fit and healthy’ Mr Tassell was out on his regular route when Gardner collided into the back of his bike. Pictured, Jim playing with his grandchildren in 2013

Emma is preparing to run 10 miles for the Great South Run in Portsmouth in October – a race her dad completed eight times – in aid of the air ambulance service who did their best to save Jim. Pictured, with her father

Emma is preparing to run 10 miles for the Great South Run in Portsmouth in October – a race her dad completed eight times – in aid of the air ambulance service who did their best to save Jim. Pictured, with her father

‘My dad’s death should never have happened and more people will die if we do not see change.

‘How many more people have to die before the government will say ‘enough is enough’ and put a new law in place?’

‘Fit and healthy’ Mr Tassell was out on his regular route when Gardner collided into the back of his bike. 

My dad’s death should never have happened and more people will die if we do not see change.

‘The emergency services got to dad within three minutes after the crash, which is phenomenal,’ Emma, a bank team manager, continued.

‘They were so quick to get an air ambulance there and give my dad every possible chance to survive. If they hadn’t got to dad so quickly, he would have died on the roadside and never been able to donate his organs.’

Mr Tassell was taken to Southampton General Hospital and placed in an induced coma. 

Despite the medics’ efforts, the severity of Jim’s brain damage became devastatingly clear, and on July 28, his life support was turned off.

Mr Tassell, pictured with Emma, was taken to Southampton General Hospital and placed in an induced coma. Despite the medics' efforts, the severity of Jim's brain damage became devastatingly clear, and on July 28, his life support was turned off

Mr Tassell, pictured with Emma, was taken to Southampton General Hospital and placed in an induced coma. Despite the medics’ efforts, the severity of Jim’s brain damage became devastatingly clear, and on July 28, his life support was turned off

‘It was horrendous,’ said Emma. ‘We live just 15 minutes away from my parents and used to see each other all the time.

‘Dad was the central pillar of our family and to go from seeing him all the time to having him taken away from us in the click of a finger was horrifying.’

The effect on the family – especially Emma’s mother, retired school assistant Stephanie Tassell, 69 – has been devastating.

She said: ‘My dad was loved by so many people. He was always such a true gentleman, and so nice and gentle.

‘No words can describe the devastation his loss has caused.’

Despite the family’s grief, they have taken comfort in the legacy Jim has left behind.

She said: ‘So far, dad’s kidneys have helped save the lives of two people.

‘His liver has been donated to science and we are waiting to hear where his corneas and heart valves will be used.’

Emma is preparing to run 10 miles for the Great South Run in Portsmouth in October – a race her dad completed eight times – in aid of the air ambulance service who did their best to save Jim.

She said: ‘It will be very emotional because the last time I ran this race was with my dad in 2014.

‘I swore then I would never do it again at the time because it was so hard, but I want to make him proud and make a difference.’

Becky Guy, the Road Safety Manager for England said: ‘There’s no set age to retire from driving.

‘We all age differently and as long as we’re fit and safe, there’s nothing to stop us from continuing to drive at any stage in life.

‘But, there may come a time when you need to retire from driving, for your own sake and those around you.

‘This is a very difficult decision, but it does not mean that you have to give up your independence and freedom.’

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