ARE you ever too old to drive?

Currently, if you are over 70 you have to renew your licence every three years if you want to continue driving - but, as yet, there is no compulsory testing.

Failing eyesight is just one of the perils of ageing; older people may also be slower to react to certain situations and they can also feel less confident about driving, particularly with so many cars and other considerations on today’s roads.

Understandably, many don’t want to lose their independence or the convenience of being able to get into their own car and drive themselves to a destination, particularly when attending appointments and public transport can be unreliable.

For 86-year-old Jean Walker, and many more of her generation who are still driving, the roads are very different, now compared to when they initially sat in the driving seat - more notably there were probably fewer cars on the road.

Jean, from Bradford, passed her driving test at the age of 22 - although she doesn’t do as much driving as she did, she’s confident enough to keep her licence but she’s also sensible to know when it’s time to give up.

Jean is generally healthy, she maintains regular eye tests and keeps herself active so she is more than capable of getting behind the wheel, but even at her age she admits she isn’t as confident as she was and doesn’t do the miles she used to do.

She doesn’t mind short trips to the supermarket, the doctor’s surgery and she’s more than happy to drive to the outskirts of her home city in her Kia Picanto, but if it comes to tackling the more complex roads within the city centre she’ll take a taxi.

“I wouldn’t drive to the lower end of town where I don’t know it as well,” says Jean, who knows her limitations and won’t drive after dusk either.

Her only concern in her quest to carry on driving is the steep amount she pays for car insurance - but she appreciates that is the price she pays for her independence and for Jean, and many more of her driving generation, is the appeal to keep on motoring.

“It’s my independence. I can see my friends,” says Jean.

She says although she enjoys taking the bus ‘it’s the company and listening to people talking’ she says, Jean admits it isn’t as convenient - particularly when attending appointments.

Although Jean is happy to carry on driving, she won’t carry on indefinitely if she doesn’t feel safe to do so, and believes tests should be introduced.

“I am a sensible person but for other people as well as myself I don’t want a car accident.”

“If you feel you are not safe give up. If you’re concerned, give up. Know your limitations - that is another thing. I wouldn’t set off and drive into the Dales.” adds Jean.

Figures from the Department For Transport indicate in 2017 80 per cent of men and 50 per cent of women over 70 held a full driving licence.

According to the motoring organisation, the AA, by 2030 more than 90 per cent of men over 70 will be behind the wheel and by 2035 there will be 21 million older drivers on the UK roads.

Currently drivers over 60 have fewer crashes than younger age groups. The vast majority of older drivers manage their driving by, for example, avoiding driving at night or at busier times of the day.

Many also know when to give up and try to adjust their lives to having no car.

A spokesman for the motoring organisation, the AA, says: “Giving up driving is a big decision that can have a profound effect on someone’s quality of life. Because of this, we believe it should be based on personal advice from GPs and family, rather than on an certain age.

“We do support older drivers providing evidence of eye tests after the age of 70; this would help keep those who are fit to drive mobile for longer.

“We wouldn’t call for compulsory tests/checks based solely on age. In fact, if a safety policy was to be designed around the age of drivers then it would be young drivers who would be more likely to be restricted than older drivers.

“Often older drivers will self-regulate to keep themselves, and others safe, such as avoiding certain types of driving they no longer feel confident with (e.g night or long distances).”

Bradford driving instructor, Naheem Shah, senior manager of the family-run driving school Safeway Rider covering West Yorkshire and Humberside, says he believes drivers over a certain age should be offered a refresher training course.

“I would recommend a training course, a refresher to update the rules and regulations because a lot of things have changed,” he says.