“MIND the pedestrian dear,” barked Hyacinth Bucket every time her husband Richard got behind the wheel of their Rover 216 saloon in the sitcom Keeping Up Appearances.

The conscientious Richard had only just taken early retirement, and would have undoubtedly deemed himself fit to drive for decades to come.

But now there is more focus than ever on older motorists. The recent TV series 100 Year Old Drivers proved that age is no barrier for some, with almost 200 people over the age of 100 still taking to the UK’s roads.

And why should it be? We are an ageing population, and to discriminate on age alone is rightly frowned upon.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said that older people tended to be among the safest and most considerate drivers.

However, the charity pointed out that as we get older, our eyesight, physical condition, and reaction times may not be as good as they once were.

Medication consumed to keep age-related conditions at bay can also affect our driving, according to RoSPA.

In January of this year, Prince Philip hit national headlines when he was involved in a crash while driving near the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, at the age of 97.

Within weeks of the accident, the Duke of Edinburgh announced he was giving up his licence.

But when is it right to sacrifice the freedom and independence which being a driver brings?

Having passed his test in the 1950s, my father David Tulip, of Haydon Bridge, had to return his licence to the DVLA, after suffering a stroke five years ago, at the age of 78. He exercised his right to retake his driving test, and very nearly passed.

Subsequent strokes meant my father never managed a second attempt, but he never once believed he was too old to drive.

It’s a sensitive subject for senior citizens and their relatives, but fortunately there is help at hand in district.

Tynedale Advanced Drivers and Riders is a local, volunteer-led organisation, which offers experienced driver assessments.

Former traffic policeman Alan Nelson, of Hexham, who founded the group six years ago, said: “We usually get approached by people who are concerned about an older relative who is still driving.

“I took an 89-year-old man out for an assessment along one of his familiar routes. His driving was immaculate, but when we tried a less familiar route, he lost confidence.

“This is something you can work on, and in a case such as this, age is is not a barrier. You’re never too old to practice and learn new skills.

“It becomes a problem if somebody is struggling with their eyesight or hearing, or if they can’t turn their neck around to check blind spots.”

Alan and his fellow volunteers will provide an assessment of whether a motorist is suitable to drive.

“Any decision would have to be made by the individual motorist, or by a doctor if they felt the motorist shouldn’t be driving on health grounds,” he said.

“But we can make a recommendation which is a good starting point.”

By law, all motorists must renew their driving licence at the age of 70.

Alan said one of his recent students was 70-year-old Barry Cornes, of Hexham, who passed an advanced driving test in his 1955 Morris Minor.

Tynedale Advanced Drivers and Riders aims to increase road safety and improve driving standards. It provides advanced driving lessons for people of all ages.