May 26, 2011

99 and Going Strong

A Dorset woman just weeks away from her 100th birthday is still driving and enjoying the open road.

Peggy Hovel, 99, from West Parley, Ferndown, learned to drive in 1925 at the age of 15, but had to wait until she was 16 before she got her licence.

She was already driving when compulsory driving tests were introduced on 1 June 1935.

Ms Hovel, who turns 100 on 24 July, said driving “just came naturally”.

“I do like speed,” said Ms Hovel, whose car registration plate is HO0RAH. “I’ve always loved driving fast.”

‘Strapped in’

When asked to list the main differences between driving in 1925 and driving now, she said: “We used hand signals.

“Turning right you had to open the window and put your arm out, and turning left you circled your right arm out of the window.”

Ms Hovel added that condensation on the windscreen was difficult.

She said: “You just couldn’t clear the fogs because there weren’t any windscreen wipers.”

Ms Hovel has had two falls while walking on uneven ground and therefore said she felt safer driving.

She said: “In a car you’re strapped in, you can’t fall out.”

Ms Hovel said she would think about giving up driving when she feels “less confident”.

“I shall know when to stop, which I hope will be some long time hence,” she said.

There have been calls for motorists to take a driving test when they reach the age of 70.

But Stephen Small, a spokesman for the Driving Standards Agency, said there were no plans to introduce “re-tests”.

He said: “Evidence does not show older drivers to be a demographic more likely to cause a serious accident than others, and there are many older drivers who are aware of their limitations and manage their driving responsibly.”

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