SHOULD drivers give up their licence once they reach a certain age?
The question has been asked numerous times previously as more drivers take to the road than ever before and proposals are put forward to reduce swelling traffic.
The latest idea to scrutinise a motorist’s ability has been proposed by a report drawn up by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety.
Entitled: It’s My Choice, the report claims elderly drivers caught speeding or breaking other traffic laws should be sent on special training courses.
But while the choice may seem sensible and in keeping with other laws which see drivers of all ages and abilities forced to take courses if they fall foul of the law, is it right to single out an age group?
Jim Barclay, 86, of St Annes Road, South Shore, has been driving since he was a 17-year-old and has attended refresher courses run by Blackpool Council to improve his skills behind the wheel.
He told The Gazette: “I jumped at the chance to go on a refresher course, but a lot of people didn’t turn up.
“My eyesight isn’t the best at night, but during the day time I would challenge anyone.
“My strengths as a driver are that I’m never in a hurry, and I always belt up and pay attention.
“And no matter if I’m going to use my car again later in the day, I always put it in the garage because you have to give some people as much space on the road as you can.”
Mr Barclay disputes the perception he is too old to drive because he says he is fit and well enough to do so.
And he has also been given the green light to drive by his optician who assesses his eyes annually.
However, Mr Barclay would happily hand in his licence and the keys for his Daewoo Matiz car if requested to do so.
He added: “The trouble with elderly drivers is some can’t see the number plates in front of them, but they don’t want to admit it.
“Courses will help drivers and as long as you are getting that help, it can only be a good thing.
“When I first started driving in Blackpool at 17, there were no cars on the roads after a certain time, but if you are on the motorway now, cars come by you in a flash.”
Amy Taziker is at the other end of the driving spectrum to Mr Barclay, but has similar views on compulsory tests for drivers of all ages.
The 18-year-old office worker, from Mains Lane, Poulton, passed her test in August, following nine months of lessons and would happily take part in a driving improvement course.
She says it is only since she has been driving her Citroen C1 on the roads consistently that her driving has improved.
She said: “I think it varies with each driver, but you typically see an old man or woman and think it could be dangerous if they are going too slow.
“It would be a good idea if they do get tested again or go on courses, just for their own safety and that of others road users.”
Stereotypes are given to both young and old drivers, especially in terms of speed and recklessness, however, Amy says this does not apply to everyone.
She added: “I’m confident as long as I know where I’m going and I would take them up on a course to improve my driving.
“I know a lot of people who drive fast, but while most of my friends are good drivers, there are a lot of stupid drivers on the roads who are my age.
“But that applies to a lot of people in their 30s and 40s who drive like that as well.”
Tony Sumner, 61, runs Blackpool Driving School and does not see a huge difference between the abilities of a driver who has recently passed their test and a driver with a wealth of experience.
He said: “I think the common problem is the pace of life we live at. If you are behind an elderly person and they are doing 25mph you want to overtake.
“But young drivers may have picked up bad habits and can become over-confident.
“I’m 61 and I feel very fit and full of energy and would hate to think I have to take my test again in nine years’ time if that becomes the case.”
Moves have been made by Blackpool Driving School to target young drivers at 16 to ensure they are able to tackle the demands of the roads when they reach 17 and learn to drive.
Mr Sumner added: “We want to make 16-year-olds very responsible, so once they come to driving they are more aware.
“The problem comes when they pass their test and no longer have someone beside them guiding them and they become a free agent.”