Monday 22 September 2008

Licensed To Kill Drive

A road rage woman driver was burned to death after ramming another vehicle and setting her own car on fire by furiously revving her engine until sparks flew from the wheels, it emerged today.
Despite a passerby’s courageous actions, opening her door and encouraging her to get out of the now burning vehicle, she refused, threatened him and firmly closed the door. Odd behaviour? Well, yes:
Ms Sutton-Smith, who suffered from drastic mood swings caused by bi-polar disorder, had failed to appreciate the danger she was in because of her mental condition, coroner Alan Crickmore said.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, he said he was satisfied she had not intended to kill herself.
Maybe not, but she certainly intended to do serious harm to Mrs Small. What would she have been charged with, had she lived? Probably nothing.

But how does someone so unstable get to keep her driving license in the first place?
The inquest heard medical evidence that Ms Sutton-Smith suffered from bi-polar disorder and could become extremely agitated.

Her mental condition made it likely that she would act impulsively and fail to appreciate when she was in danger.
Just the sort of person we want on the roads…


Anonymous said...

"Just the sort of person we want on the roads… "

Hey, why stop at the roads?

JuliaM, I visit this blog daily and am in almost total sympathy with your viewpoint. In particular, I entirely share your contempt for the policy of banning anything and everything on the grounds that it "might offend…"
However ...

As a manic depressive myself, I find your point (if I've understood it) unsubtle at best and positively sinister at worst. If this driver should have been sectioned or at least taken off the roads, then when are you suggesting this should have happened and by what sort of bureaucratic mechanism?

Don't forget that Labour floated the idea in 1999 of locking up (for want of a better expression) mental defectives in advance of their causing any trouble, merely on the grounds that they "might", while Tony Blair was still wanting to introduce "ASBOs for foetuses" when he was trying to secure his legacy.

One of the most insidious features of bipolar is that nobody, least of all the subject, can delineate precisely where the personality ends and where the illness begins. Trying to curtail extremities of behaviour in advance is therefore a considerably more complex exercise than it might appear, and while this motorist may well have been a total fruitcake, I am really not convinced that this is the sort of road we want to be going down ... is it?

Anonymous said...

"Her mental condition made it likely that she would act impulsively and fail to appreciate when she was in danger."

Her doctor should have made the judgement call that this was something not advisable in a person at the controls of a motor vehicle, and contacted the DVLA accordingly.

This person. Not all people with bi-polar disorder, which as you state, takes different forms.

Anonymous said...

Thanks at least for making a specific suggestion. However, inferring the doctor's duty to notify the DVLA from the motorist's failure to appreciate danger might require a bit more rigour than perhaps you have allowed. Why don't we leave it there.

Anonymous said...

Actually, stressing the importance of a doctor's duty to certify fitness to drive is on the cards.

I think we need to get away from the idea that a driving license is a right, and fall back to the idea that it is a privilege, to be suspended if there is good cause to think that someone is unfit (physically or mentally) to control a large piece of moving machinery...