Charlie Drake says he has been thinking about E-plates for a long time. E-plates for your car, that is. Charlie's logic is that there are L-plates for learner drivers and N-plates for novice drivers, so why shouldn't there be E-plates for elderly drivers?
"I’m one of those people myself, approaching my mid-70s, where I know my reflexes are slowing down."
Charlie told Joe Duffy on Liveline on RTÉ Radio 1 that his idea for an E-plate might mean that other motorists would be more considerate of cars they perceive to be inconveniencing them by driving too slowly.
Since he retired in 2005, Charlie has been chairman of an active retirement group. He says he’s discussed his idea with a lot of people his own age and older and they all agree that it’s a good idea. But:
"By the time we finish with L-plates and N-plates and E-plates, there’ll be no room to look out the back window."
Joe brought Rom Hyde into the conversation and Rom wasn’t enamoured of the idea for an E-plate. He’s 70, has been driving for over 50 years, has never had an accident and recently bought himself a 1500cc Harley Davidson motorbike.
Rom reckons that rather than E for elderly on the back of a car, some cars should have B for bad driver instead.
"There are bad drivers like there are bad people, bad teachers, bad farmers and bad accountants."
Rom gave Charlie some advice: if you’re terrified of being overtaken on the roads by coaches, he should get off the road.
Charlie was unruffled by Rom’s broadside, saying he went on Liveline precisely to look for other people’s opinions of his idea. And as if by magic, John called in to support Charlie’s idea.
He used the example of an elderly driver approaching the Red Cow roundabout in Dublin and getting nervous. Rom was having none of it.
"If you’re nervous on the road and you’re starting to make mistakes – get the bus, guys."
More callers called in on either side of the E-plate debate and you can hear the full discussion with Charlie and listen back to the rest of Liveline above.