Family calls for lifetime ban as elderly driver who killed Mary Middleton in East Reach crash admits careless driving

This is The West Country: Crash victim Mary Middleton. Crash victim Mary Middleton.

THE family of a “devoted mother” who died in a horrific crash on Taunton's East Reach believe the driver who killed her should never be allowed behind the wheel again.

Mother-of-seven Mary Middleton, known as Ray to friends, was crossing at the Haydon Road junction, near Tesco Express, on the morning of September 2 when her mobility scooter was hit by a car.

Last week, Sheila Travers, 83, of Wansbeck Green, admitted causing death by careless driving at Taunton Deane Magistrates' Court and was fined £816 and banned from driving for 18 months.

Reflecting on the sentence, Ms Middleton's son Graham said: “It could have been worse from our point of view but I don't think she should be able to drive again.

“It was obviously an accident and there was no malice but I still think there should be a lifetime ban.

“We have not had an apology but I don't know if I want one now. Whatever she says will not bring our mum back.”

As reported in the County Gazette, Travers' Vauxhall Corsa pushed the mobility scooter across East Reach before smashing into the wall of an empty building.

Stunned bystanders watched as emergency services tried to revive Ms Middleton, 59, but she died at the scene.

Graham, 27, said: “Once she hit my mum she should have stopped and this could have been avoided but she didn't and she pushed her right across the road.

“It was avoidable and that's the most annoying bit about it.”

This is The West Country:

(The scene of the crash from the top of East Reach)

At present, drivers must renew their licence when they reach 70 but this week the Department for Transport announced it was considering upping this to 80, a move which has been questioned by road safety charity Brake.

Graham added: “There are some people that are older that should definitely have to re-take their tests.

“We were told a prison sentence was not likely in this case but at least she has had her licence taken away for a while and has to do an extended test to get it back.

“We've had to change our lives so at least this will have an effect on the way she lives hers even if she hasn't gone to prison.”

Ms Middleton, originally from Scotland, moved to Somerset 17 years ago and leaves four children in Somerset and three in Kent.

An inquest into her death has been formally opened and will be heard in full at a later date.

  • When the County Gazette approached Sheila Travers' defence solicitor Ed Boyce, he said he could not discuss the case and declined to comment.

Comments (19)

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1:30pm Fri 7 Mar 14

grocer33 says...

Why on this earth do you think this lady should serve a prison sentence,also your comment about having an effect the way she lives her life. You sound very churlish!!!!!
Why on this earth do you think this lady should serve a prison sentence,also your comment about having an effect the way she lives her life. You sound very churlish!!!!! grocer33
  • Score: -8

3:30pm Fri 7 Mar 14

Mi_Coc says...

I dont know why the government seem to avoid the risk of elderly drivers most 70 plus probably shouldnt be on the road as they would not pass a test. Thats my experience.


The lady here doesnt deserve prison but when you get the accelerator and the brake pedal confused you really shouldnt be driving. This is what I am told the lady said to the police when they attended. Instead of braking she accidently floored it!
I dont know why the government seem to avoid the risk of elderly drivers most 70 plus probably shouldnt be on the road as they would not pass a test. Thats my experience. The lady here doesnt deserve prison but when you get the accelerator and the brake pedal confused you really shouldnt be driving. This is what I am told the lady said to the police when they attended. Instead of braking she accidently floored it! Mi_Coc
  • Score: 13

4:17pm Fri 7 Mar 14

benners_2k says...

I wonder if the lights were green and the victim crossed anyway and that was why the driver got off lightly? It is a very difficult junction to see anything from as it has tall shops on either side.
I wonder if the lights were green and the victim crossed anyway and that was why the driver got off lightly? It is a very difficult junction to see anything from as it has tall shops on either side. benners_2k
  • Score: 11

7:26pm Fri 7 Mar 14

pixiewillow says...

grocer33 wrote:
Why on this earth do you think this lady should serve a prison sentence,also your comment about having an effect the way she lives her life. You sound very churlish!!!!!
umm - perhaps because she killed their Mum??
[quote][p][bold]grocer33[/bold] wrote: Why on this earth do you think this lady should serve a prison sentence,also your comment about having an effect the way she lives her life. You sound very churlish!!!!![/p][/quote]umm - perhaps because she killed their Mum?? pixiewillow
  • Score: 6

7:09am Sat 8 Mar 14

Little_Owly says...

The quality of driving in SOME elderly drivers is shocking. I think insurance for the over 70s should be as high as for young people who are new to driving. In my experience, all the bumps I have witnessed in car parks and most of the dangerous manoeuvres I have seen on the roads have been due to the much older age group. Last summer I saw an old lady drive the WRONG WAY around the Cross Keys roundabout! I have sat and watched an old man reverse into tree whilst trying to park. And I followed an old gent the other day who had no idea how to use a roundabout properly and was a hazard to himself and other road users. I think a 2nd practical test at 70. Keep our roads safe.
The quality of driving in SOME elderly drivers is shocking. I think insurance for the over 70s should be as high as for young people who are new to driving. In my experience, all the bumps I have witnessed in car parks and most of the dangerous manoeuvres I have seen on the roads have been due to the much older age group. Last summer I saw an old lady drive the WRONG WAY around the Cross Keys roundabout! I have sat and watched an old man reverse into tree whilst trying to park. And I followed an old gent the other day who had no idea how to use a roundabout properly and was a hazard to himself and other road users. I think a 2nd practical test at 70. Keep our roads safe. Little_Owly
  • Score: 9

7:15am Sat 8 Mar 14

Little_Owly says...

And what happens at 70 now? Nothing, no health check, no eye check, no nothing. Just send a form back to get a new licence. That's it. Awful.
And what happens at 70 now? Nothing, no health check, no eye check, no nothing. Just send a form back to get a new licence. That's it. Awful. Little_Owly
  • Score: 9

7:19am Sat 8 Mar 14

Little_Owly says...

And before lots of over 70s start commenting on what good drivers they are, and I shouldn't tar them all with the same brush, I said SOME elderly drivers! if you are confident in your level of driving competence, you should be willing to prove it under test conditions to remain licensed. I would be happy to do that.
And before lots of over 70s start commenting on what good drivers they are, and I shouldn't tar them all with the same brush, I said SOME elderly drivers! if you are confident in your level of driving competence, you should be willing to prove it under test conditions to remain licensed. I would be happy to do that. Little_Owly
  • Score: 7

8:25am Sat 8 Mar 14

ladybird14 says...

my heart goes out to the family for their loss i cannot begin to feel how they feel!! but also i would think the old lady is also in bits too,i don't think the should be be up at all to re-new your licence it should stay at 70 and then every 5 years after as so much can happen in 5 years but we all as humans hate our lifes (independence) taken from us
my heart goes out to the family for their loss i cannot begin to feel how they feel!! but also i would think the old lady is also in bits too,i don't think the should be be up at all to re-new your licence it should stay at 70 and then every 5 years after as so much can happen in 5 years but we all as humans hate our lifes (independence) taken from us ladybird14
  • Score: 1

8:39am Sat 8 Mar 14

ladybird14 says...

however i don't think its right for the old lady to go to prison and don't think that is what the family is saying either but i do agree with them that she should of been given a life time ban but i think this will be all to much for her at her age and probably never want to drive again!!
however i don't think its right for the old lady to go to prison and don't think that is what the family is saying either but i do agree with them that she should of been given a life time ban but i think this will be all to much for her at her age and probably never want to drive again!! ladybird14
  • Score: 6

6:31pm Sat 8 Mar 14

heather147 says...

It is not in anyone's interests to send an 83 year old woman to jail, it was an accident but I would question if an 83 year old is still really capable of driving? I do think in this case she should be banned for life - for her own good.
It is not in anyone's interests to send an 83 year old woman to jail, it was an accident but I would question if an 83 year old is still really capable of driving? I do think in this case she should be banned for life - for her own good. heather147
  • Score: 5

9:32pm Sat 8 Mar 14

souwesterly says...

I would politely suggest that the law needs to be flexible regarding age and driving. Many a 60 year old is useless on the road - many in their 80s are still alert and capable. Many 20 year olds should never have been allowed on the road in the first place!
I'm going to be 70 in 18 months time and I know darned well that I'm still a better driver than many youngsters. At my age I take care - I don't rush things (I don't loiter either though); I still have all my faculties and I've got a clean licence - nothing on it ever since I passed 25, I might add!
I can even park correctly - which is more than many people can!
I've driven for a living for years with over a million miles behind me.
I know that I can pass a driving test with flying colours - I can pass DVD Learner Tests easily - so why should I be required to resit the exams at 70? And I don't think that I'm unique.
I would happily accept that once you reach 70 then perhaps a free annual check-up by your GP should be done but only if the driver failed that, should they be required to do anything further.
It would be fascinating to see a TV series in which drivers - chosen completely at random - were pitted against different age drivers over a course which included many of the hazards we get on the road today. Not the fastest to complete the course but the driver with the least errors would win.....and my money wouldn't be on the younger drivers!
*
With regard to the accident - my commiserations to Mary's family but I have to say that Mary's death was the end result of a series of weirdly random events. Absolute bad luck to be in just the wrong place at the wrong time at just the moment that an elderly person made an error and had a panic attack.
Five minutes either way and the result would just have been a bent car and a damaged wall.
*
Please don't all of you give me the thumbs down - there's a lot of common sense in my thinking.....
I would politely suggest that the law needs to be flexible regarding age and driving. Many a 60 year old is useless on the road - many in their 80s are still alert and capable. Many 20 year olds should never have been allowed on the road in the first place! I'm going to be 70 in 18 months time and I know darned well that I'm still a better driver than many youngsters. At my age I take care - I don't rush things (I don't loiter either though); I still have all my faculties and I've got a clean licence - nothing on it ever since I passed 25, I might add! I can even park correctly - which is more than many people can! I've driven for a living for years with over a million miles behind me. I know that I can pass a driving test with flying colours - I can pass DVD Learner Tests easily - so why should I be required to resit the exams at 70? And I don't think that I'm unique. I would happily accept that once you reach 70 then perhaps a free annual check-up by your GP should be done but only if the driver failed that, should they be required to do anything further. It would be fascinating to see a TV series in which drivers - chosen completely at random - were pitted against different age drivers over a course which included many of the hazards we get on the road today. Not the fastest to complete the course but the driver with the least errors would win.....and my money wouldn't be on the younger drivers! * With regard to the accident - my commiserations to Mary's family but I have to say that Mary's death was the end result of a series of weirdly random events. Absolute bad luck to be in just the wrong place at the wrong time at just the moment that an elderly person made an error and had a panic attack. Five minutes either way and the result would just have been a bent car and a damaged wall. * Please don't all of you give me the thumbs down - there's a lot of common sense in my thinking..... souwesterly
  • Score: 5

10:28pm Sat 8 Mar 14

Useacarpark.com says...

souwesterly wrote:
I would politely suggest that the law needs to be flexible regarding age and driving. Many a 60 year old is useless on the road - many in their 80s are still alert and capable. Many 20 year olds should never have been allowed on the road in the first place!
I'm going to be 70 in 18 months time and I know darned well that I'm still a better driver than many youngsters. At my age I take care - I don't rush things (I don't loiter either though); I still have all my faculties and I've got a clean licence - nothing on it ever since I passed 25, I might add!
I can even park correctly - which is more than many people can!
I've driven for a living for years with over a million miles behind me.
I know that I can pass a driving test with flying colours - I can pass DVD Learner Tests easily - so why should I be required to resit the exams at 70? And I don't think that I'm unique.
I would happily accept that once you reach 70 then perhaps a free annual check-up by your GP should be done but only if the driver failed that, should they be required to do anything further.
It would be fascinating to see a TV series in which drivers - chosen completely at random - were pitted against different age drivers over a course which included many of the hazards we get on the road today. Not the fastest to complete the course but the driver with the least errors would win.....and my money wouldn't be on the younger drivers!
*
With regard to the accident - my commiserations to Mary's family but I have to say that Mary's death was the end result of a series of weirdly random events. Absolute bad luck to be in just the wrong place at the wrong time at just the moment that an elderly person made an error and had a panic attack.
Five minutes either way and the result would just have been a bent car and a damaged wall.
*
Please don't all of you give me the thumbs down - there's a lot of common sense in my thinking.....
What about your reactions to avoid an accident? An excuse that old people are slow doesn't cut it when you look at the context of this story. I know that if I pressed the wrong pedal I could correct it in a split second, where as old people would most likely fumble about. Reactions get slower with age that's a fact! In fact the whole body deteriorates!
[quote][p][bold]souwesterly[/bold] wrote: I would politely suggest that the law needs to be flexible regarding age and driving. Many a 60 year old is useless on the road - many in their 80s are still alert and capable. Many 20 year olds should never have been allowed on the road in the first place! I'm going to be 70 in 18 months time and I know darned well that I'm still a better driver than many youngsters. At my age I take care - I don't rush things (I don't loiter either though); I still have all my faculties and I've got a clean licence - nothing on it ever since I passed 25, I might add! I can even park correctly - which is more than many people can! I've driven for a living for years with over a million miles behind me. I know that I can pass a driving test with flying colours - I can pass DVD Learner Tests easily - so why should I be required to resit the exams at 70? And I don't think that I'm unique. I would happily accept that once you reach 70 then perhaps a free annual check-up by your GP should be done but only if the driver failed that, should they be required to do anything further. It would be fascinating to see a TV series in which drivers - chosen completely at random - were pitted against different age drivers over a course which included many of the hazards we get on the road today. Not the fastest to complete the course but the driver with the least errors would win.....and my money wouldn't be on the younger drivers! * With regard to the accident - my commiserations to Mary's family but I have to say that Mary's death was the end result of a series of weirdly random events. Absolute bad luck to be in just the wrong place at the wrong time at just the moment that an elderly person made an error and had a panic attack. Five minutes either way and the result would just have been a bent car and a damaged wall. * Please don't all of you give me the thumbs down - there's a lot of common sense in my thinking.....[/p][/quote]What about your reactions to avoid an accident? An excuse that old people are slow doesn't cut it when you look at the context of this story. I know that if I pressed the wrong pedal I could correct it in a split second, where as old people would most likely fumble about. Reactions get slower with age that's a fact! In fact the whole body deteriorates! Useacarpark.com
  • Score: 2

9:42am Sun 9 Mar 14

Dr Dave says...

A terribly sad set of circumstances, the instances of people confusing the brake and throttle pedals in automatic cars is more widespread than you think. Many garage walls have been demolished in this way.
A terribly sad set of circumstances, the instances of people confusing the brake and throttle pedals in automatic cars is more widespread than you think. Many garage walls have been demolished in this way. Dr Dave
  • Score: 4

10:51am Sun 9 Mar 14

souwesterly says...

Quote Useacarpark.com - "What about your reactions to avoid an accident? An excuse that old people are slow doesn't cut it when you look at the context of this story. I know that if I pressed the wrong pedal I could correct it in a split second, where as old people would most likely fumble about. Reactions get slower with age that's a fact! In fact the whole body deteriorates!"
*
Of course your reactions slow down - that's why the more elderly take care! Which is also why younger drivers have more accidents - "Yeah - I can get through that gap!" - "I can nip out in front of him!"
Fortunately for those people, sometimes their quick reactions also get them out of trouble.....
Have you ever driven an automatic car Mr CarPark?
I remember nearly having a nasty accident as I blipped the throttle in one some years ago - needless to say the car shot forward and only my quick reactions saved me.
When you're convinced that you're doing the right thing, e.g, pressing on what you think is the correct pedal, the only thing to do is to keep pressing it.
Basically you panic - and that can happen at any age.
That's why novice bike riders lose it - all they can think to do is to hold onto that throttle grip!
*
I am not trying to stick up for decrepit 80+ drivers - many of them probably only took a Ministry of Defense driving test (if at all) and drive as if unaware of all around them. But many of them now have to rely on their car since bus services are so poor and neighbours are so unwilling to help the elderly.
My mother at 80 simply had to use her car - she lived 5 miles from town and the bus service had been cut off. But she was a prime example of ancient drivers who shouldn't be on the road - until she reversed her car at high speed through a brick wall....having confused the pedals.
She never drove again, I might add - but I had to drive to Bridport every week to do her shopping instead.
*
More elderly people should indeed be re-tested - but I'd also be keen to advocate a re-test perhaps 5 years after you pass your original test - to see just how many bad habits you've picked up.
Quote Useacarpark.com - "What about your reactions to avoid an accident? An excuse that old people are slow doesn't cut it when you look at the context of this story. I know that if I pressed the wrong pedal I could correct it in a split second, where as old people would most likely fumble about. Reactions get slower with age that's a fact! In fact the whole body deteriorates!" * Of course your reactions slow down - that's why the more elderly take care! Which is also why younger drivers have more accidents - "Yeah - I can get through that gap!" - "I can nip out in front of him!" Fortunately for those people, sometimes their quick reactions also get them out of trouble..... Have you ever driven an automatic car Mr CarPark? I remember nearly having a nasty accident as I blipped the throttle in one some years ago - needless to say the car shot forward and only my quick reactions saved me. When you're convinced that you're doing the right thing, e.g, pressing on what you think is the correct pedal, the only thing to do is to keep pressing it. Basically you panic - and that can happen at any age. That's why novice bike riders lose it - all they can think to do is to hold onto that throttle grip! * I am not trying to stick up for decrepit 80+ drivers - many of them probably only took a Ministry of Defense driving test (if at all) and drive as if unaware of all around them. But many of them now have to rely on their car since bus services are so poor and neighbours are so unwilling to help the elderly. My mother at 80 simply had to use her car - she lived 5 miles from town and the bus service had been cut off. But she was a prime example of ancient drivers who shouldn't be on the road - until she reversed her car at high speed through a brick wall....having confused the pedals. She never drove again, I might add - but I had to drive to Bridport every week to do her shopping instead. * More elderly people should indeed be re-tested - but I'd also be keen to advocate a re-test perhaps 5 years after you pass your original test - to see just how many bad habits you've picked up. souwesterly
  • Score: 5

3:59pm Tue 11 Mar 14

Slow down! says...

"I'm going to be 70 in 18 months time and I know darned well that I'm still a better driver than many youngsters. At my age I take care - I don't rush things (I don't loiter either though); I still have all my faculties and I've got a clean licence - nothing on it ever since I passed 25, I might add!
I can even park correctly - which is more than many people can!
I've driven for a living for years with over a million miles behind me.
I know that I can pass a driving test with flying colours - I can pass DVD Learner Tests easily - so why should I be required to resit the exams at 70? And I don't think that I'm unique."

IMO the fact that you think like that makes you a dangerous driver!

This is a very sad case for all concerned but at 83 you really shouldn't be driving without regular eye tests and driving test or something to prove you are still capable of handling a car.

Times have changed 30 years ago you might have been ok for old driver to still drive round but the roads are a lot more congested now and cars are more powerful, something has to be done to keep drivers like this off our roads if they are not up to it.

I'd also ban anyone caught using a phone or txting for 1 year, there really isn't any need to do it.
"I'm going to be 70 in 18 months time and I know darned well that I'm still a better driver than many youngsters. At my age I take care - I don't rush things (I don't loiter either though); I still have all my faculties and I've got a clean licence - nothing on it ever since I passed 25, I might add! I can even park correctly - which is more than many people can! I've driven for a living for years with over a million miles behind me. I know that I can pass a driving test with flying colours - I can pass DVD Learner Tests easily - so why should I be required to resit the exams at 70? And I don't think that I'm unique." IMO the fact that you think like that makes you a dangerous driver! This is a very sad case for all concerned but at 83 you really shouldn't be driving without regular eye tests and driving test or something to prove you are still capable of handling a car. Times have changed 30 years ago you might have been ok for old driver to still drive round but the roads are a lot more congested now and cars are more powerful, something has to be done to keep drivers like this off our roads if they are not up to it. I'd also ban anyone caught using a phone or txting for 1 year, there really isn't any need to do it. Slow down!
  • Score: 3

4:06pm Tue 11 Mar 14

Slow down! says...

I saw a women driver reading a book in the other day whilst stuck in traffic in Station Rd, I sounded my horn and flashed my lights at her, no response what so ever unfortunately I couldn't get her number plate, our roads are getting more and more dangerous so why shouldn't old people have to take tests?
I saw a women driver reading a book in the other day whilst stuck in traffic in Station Rd, I sounded my horn and flashed my lights at her, no response what so ever unfortunately I couldn't get her number plate, our roads are getting more and more dangerous so why shouldn't old people have to take tests? Slow down!
  • Score: 1

11:20pm Tue 11 Mar 14

souwesterly says...

Quote - "I'd also ban anyone caught using a phone or txting for 1 year, there really isn't any need to do it."
*
I wonder which age group would be the most liable to find themselves banned?
Not liable to ban many over-80s then!!
*
So when I say - "At my age I take care - I don't rush things (I don't loiter either though); I still have all my faculties and I've got a clean licence - nothing on it ever since I passed 25, I might add!
I can even park correctly - which is more than many people can!" - then that's grounds for me to be a dangerous driver is it?
*
On yer bike, mate!
Quote - "I'd also ban anyone caught using a phone or txting for 1 year, there really isn't any need to do it." * I wonder which age group would be the most liable to find themselves banned? Not liable to ban many over-80s then!! * So when I say - "At my age I take care - I don't rush things (I don't loiter either though); I still have all my faculties and I've got a clean licence - nothing on it ever since I passed 25, I might add! I can even park correctly - which is more than many people can!" - then that's grounds for me to be a dangerous driver is it? * On yer bike, mate! souwesterly
  • Score: -1

9:41am Wed 12 Mar 14

Useacarpark.com says...

I don't think that eye tests need to come into it, because I would expect that most people that are short sighted/long sighted will have corrective prescription glasses. A better test would be to test reactions, coordination and speed perception, both physically and mentally, something better than the current hazard perception test.
I don't think that eye tests need to come into it, because I would expect that most people that are short sighted/long sighted will have corrective prescription glasses. A better test would be to test reactions, coordination and speed perception, both physically and mentally, something better than the current hazard perception test. Useacarpark.com
  • Score: 0

11:12am Wed 12 Mar 14

Slow down! says...

souwesterly wrote:
Quote - "I'd also ban anyone caught using a phone or txting for 1 year, there really isn't any need to do it." * I wonder which age group would be the most liable to find themselves banned? Not liable to ban many over-80s then!! * So when I say - "At my age I take care - I don't rush things (I don't loiter either though); I still have all my faculties and I've got a clean licence - nothing on it ever since I passed 25, I might add! I can even park correctly - which is more than many people can!" - then that's grounds for me to be a dangerous driver is it? * On yer bike, mate!
It's the 'I'm a great driver' attitude that makes you dangerous.

But is this really the place to say how good a driver you 'THINK' you are?

I'd back a law that means every driver has to re-take a basic driving standards test every 10 to 15 years no matter how old you are.
[quote][p][bold]souwesterly[/bold] wrote: Quote - "I'd also ban anyone caught using a phone or txting for 1 year, there really isn't any need to do it." * I wonder which age group would be the most liable to find themselves banned? Not liable to ban many over-80s then!! * So when I say - "At my age I take care - I don't rush things (I don't loiter either though); I still have all my faculties and I've got a clean licence - nothing on it ever since I passed 25, I might add! I can even park correctly - which is more than many people can!" - then that's grounds for me to be a dangerous driver is it? * On yer bike, mate![/p][/quote]It's the 'I'm a great driver' attitude that makes you dangerous. But is this really the place to say how good a driver you 'THINK' you are? I'd back a law that means every driver has to re-take a basic driving standards test every 10 to 15 years no matter how old you are. Slow down!
  • Score: 1

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