SAFETY campaigners have called for elderly motorists to undergo much more rigorous statutory competency checks amid fears failing health will result in avoidable tragedies on Scotland's roads.

A senior legal figure has suggested older drivers should be required to have health checks and renew their driving licences every two years once they are into their eighties.

The call comes after a 93-year-old woman killed a cyclist in her car.

Procurator-fiscal Alasdair ­MacDonald also called for octogenarians to be made to provide a corroborated statement to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) certifying they are in general good health, alert and aware.

Upon reaching 70, motorists only have to reapply to the DVLA for the documents every three years.

The demand follows the case of Alice Ross, who caused the death of 30-year-old Elaine Dunne after suffering a blackout while at the wheel of her car. Mr MacDonald made the point in his submission of evidence at the fatal ­accident inquiry (FAI) at Wick Sheriff Court. Mrs Dunne's husband Christopher was seriously injured in the same accident.

Mr MacDonald said drivers over 80 in Ontario, Canada, must take a written test and have their eyes checked every two years to renew a licence.

He said: "The local testing centres, introduced by the DVLA to make provision for the theory element of the driving test, could also with relative ease be adapted to basic tests of the nature in use in Ontario designed to easily and quickly check visual and mental acuity. While such alterations to the licensing system might not have prevented this tragedy, they might prevent others."

Drivers must send their licence to be renewed when they reach 70, but this relies on self-declaration on any ­medical conditions that could affect driving including confirmation they can still read a number plate at 65ft.

The FAI heard Mrs Ross, now 96, had suffered a blackout a month earlier, and had no memory of the accident on the A99 between John O'Groats and Wick three years ago. She surrendered her licence following the accident.

In March, the Department for Transport argued for the age limit to be raised, saying the DVLA was snowed under by renewal applications from people in or approaching their seventies.

A charge of causing death by ­dangerous driving against Mrs Ross was dropped when the Crown Office accepted her defence that the accident was caused by an underlying medical condition.

The road safety charity Brake says it wants to see licensing regulations changed to make it a legal requirement for drivers to pass an eyesight test every time they reapply for a licence after 70.

A spokesman said: "There is an issue with the DVLA's system, largely based on self-appraisal and certification, when instead there ought to be a more rigorous system. There is no requirement for drivers to prove their standard of vision apart from the number-plate test, only conducted when they do their test, and it is a flawed test anyway as it doesn't check for visual field or contrast sensitivity."

He said poor eyesight was the biggest health-related cause of crashes, with 2,900 casualties each year.

Mr MacDonald said the sheriff had the power to conclude that the DVLA system of automatic renewal and self-reporting for the licensing of elderly drivers needed to be replaced by a "more considered and targeted" regime to reduce the "well-documented" risks to as low as reasonably practicable.

Other safety and motoring organisations say there is no need to change the licensing regulations.

In 2010, there were calls for drivers to resit tests every 10 years after Frank Muir, 80, caused the deaths of teenagers Holly Fulton and Jayde McVicar when he crashed head-on into their car on the A78 near Troon, South Ayrshire. He is thought to have struck their car after going the wrong way up the road.

In 2001, Agnes Aitken, 73, struck the car of Pauline Short, 23, head-on after travelling against oncoming traffic on the A90 at Bridge of Earn, Perthshire. Both were killed.