DUNCAN BARKES: You might just as well let children drive cars

The proposal to let OAPs renew their driving licence at 80 years of age as opposed to 70 will only make our roads more hazardous.

How many times have you witnessed some appalling driving and wondered why the old fella or lady is still allowed behind the wheel?

The Drivers and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) is in a bit of a pickle.

It needs to save a few quid and the Department of Transport has come up with a money-saving wheeze.

Instead of asking OAPs to renew their licence at 70, they want to make it 80, therefore reducing the burden on the agency by minimising work and saving cash.

Records show nearly 60 per cent of over-70s now drive, which is an increase of 15 per cent from 1975.

The past ten years have seen the number of drivers the DVLA assesses on medical grounds increase from under 500,000 to more than 750,000.

The agency now deals with 1.4 million items of correspondence related to OAPs and it is struggling.

Campaigners have warned that an age increase would have a negative impact on road safety – and they are right.

Just take a look next time you are out and about: Chichester, East Preston, Worthing – there are many areas locally with a high OAP population. Many of them still drivers.

While many are perfectly safe, driving in these areas often results in witnessing some scary motoring. All too often, the culprits are elderly drivers.

My local supermarket car park is a prime location for witnessing some lucky near-misses.

Wonky parking, pulling out without looking or being oblivious to one-way signs are frequent occurrences, more often than not perpetrated by a more mature motorist.

Once you hit 70 and want to continue to drive, you have to renew every three years, declare any medical conditions and confirm that you can still read a number plate at a distance of 65ft.

These measures are a form of self-certification at best and increasing the renewal age to 80 is a recipe for disaster.

Last year a report was published by the RAC and Transport Research Laboratory which revealed that ten per cent of Britain’s four million drivers over 70 were not fit to be behind the wheel.

My opinion is not ageist. I do understand the need for independence later in life. But the older you become, the slower the body and brain functions.

We are all decaying. Eyesight, reaction times, agility and awareness all deteriorate with age. Raising the driving licence renewal age to 80 is a suggestion that is as ludicrous and dangerous as lowering it to 13 would be.