TV review: You're never too old to drive

101-year-old John Walsh drives his electric car
Billy Foley

Too Old for the Road, RTE 1, Monday at 9.30pm

John Walsh is 101-years-old and drives an electric car.

He says he has a memory of being with his mother when the end of the First World War was announced. That was November 1918.

The Tipperary man, who clearly has a very positive attitude to life and looks remarkably healthy, says his new car is “very smooth” and he intends to keep driving as long as he can, but accepts that his time is limited.

John is one of hundreds of thousands of elderly drivers in Ireland, a figure which keeps growing as the population ages.

Drivers aged over 70 in the Republic have to get a letter from their doctor when seeking to renew their licences and the doctor can make the extension for between one and three years.

But that's not the only obstacle faced by elderly drivers. There are obviously the physical ones - strength, flexibility, reaction times and eyesight. But also the increasing cost of insurance.

Where once we were concerned about the inordinate cost of insuring young drivers, now the insurance premiums for the over 70s and 80s are rocketing.

The insurance companies make the very reasonable claims that younger and older drivers are more likely to have accidents, but you get a sneaking suspicion that there is a bit of additional profit taking with the elderly.

While it is not unknown for some older people to have a heart attack at the wheel, the vast majority of older people drive very few miles and are extremely cautious.

Too Old for the Road didn't dwell too much on the problems and was more an affectionate look at drivers who were determined to keep going as long as possible.

We met 83-year-old Michael in Kilkenny who drives 12 miles each morning to a nursing home to visit his wife. Although he did admit that sometimes his eyesight wasn't great and he was “driving by feel.”

Eighty-eight-year-old Anne drives once a week on the motorway from Kildare to visit friends in Dublin.

And we accompanied 86-year-old Joan from Waterford to court where she had been summonsed for speeding, although she was convinced they had made a mistake.

To smarten up the car, Joan had a tin of black gloss paint which she used to cover over any scratches.

There was nothing too old for the road about John and Joan.


GAA Nua, RTE 1, Monday at 7.30pm

GAA Nua had the look of a programme that was part of a wider rights agreement with the association.

Something along the lines of RTE saying to the GAA - ‘We'll give you £x million and thrown in a few promotional shows for the right to broadcast a majority of championship matches.”

There's nothing wrong with that in principle, but it tends to reflect in the quality of the programming.

GAA Nua expressed way too much surprise at the professionalism in the preparation of country teams.

Were viewers supposed to be surprised that the GAA has adopted some of the techniques of professional sport, such as statistical and video analysis of matches, GPS tracking of players and physical and emotional recovery plans?

In fairness, the use of occlusion goggles was new.

These are glasses that block out the lower part of the player's vision and help to develop the ability to anticipate the arrival of the ball without having to directly look it. This helps the player to scan the field for opportunities before getting possession.

Kildare manager Cian O'Neill told the programme that his team has started using occlusion goggles.

“I love data, I'm a data geek,” said O'Neill.


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