Formula One ace Jackie Stewart attacks slur on dyslexic drivers

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The Independent Online

Some of the country's most prominent dyslexics, including Sir Jackie Stewart, the former world racing champion, have reacted furiously to research claiming the condition makes them dangerous drivers.

Some of the country's most prominent dyslexics, including Sir Jackie Stewart, the former world racing champion, have reacted furiously to research claiming the condition makes them dangerous drivers.

A Norwegian scientist claimed last week that people with the condition - often known as word blindness - were up to a third slower in reacting to traffic signals.

This would make the effects of dyslexia on drivers worse than those resulting from drinking two pints of beer.

But the findings were dismissed as nonsense by Sir Jackie, a three-times Formula One champion, who said that his good reactions had helped him survive one of the most dangerous eras of motorsport.

"It was a very small survey of 17 people and there were only six dyslexics. It is certainly not representative of dyslexics as a whole," Sir Jackie said.

Dyslexia, which causes serious reading problems for those with the condition, is said to affect 10 per cent of the population, 4 per cent severely.

Sir Jackie's views were echoed by other public figures with dyslexia. Duncan Goodhew, swimmer and Olympic medal winner, joined the criticism of the research, which led to suggestions that dyslexics should face extra tests before being granted a driving licence.

Mr Goodhew said: "It's incredibly irresponsible because dyslexia covers such a wide spectrum.

"As a swimmer I was renowned for my reactions. You can see pictures at the start of the race where I'm already half a body length ahead of the other guys."

Lord Harris of Peckham, whose company, Harris Carpets, made him a multi-millionaire, described the study by Hermundur Sigmundsson, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, as wrong and irresponsible.

But Mr Sigmundsson is standing by his research."I would like to look in the future at reactions for train drivers," he said.

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