A week or two ago, my attention was drawn to the sad case of an elderly man who caused a fatal accident on the M40.

The 'confused and lost' 77-year-old's BMW was stationary or very slow moving on the motorway after he had driven for more than 12 hours at the time of the crash.

The man, a former driving instructor, had been making what should have been a five-hour journey from Cheshire to Sussex to be with his son for Christmas.

READ > Elderly driver caused pile-up after 'stopping' on the motorway

Sadly, the elderly man's car was hit by two vehicles and both drivers were killed. The elderly driver survived and is now living in a care home.

This is a truly sad case for all concerned but as someone who will never see 50 again, it did get me thinking about just when people should give up their car keys and whether older drivers are more dangerous than other groups of road users.

The problem is, there is a tendency to use the occasional high-profile case such as the one I've mentioned as symptomatic of an entire generation.

Back in 2013, the RAC Foundation said the UK's oldest driver was a 107-year-old woman, and there were 191 people over the age of 100 with a licence.

That year was a landmark for the older generation as it was the first time in history the number of drivers aged 70 or over with full UK driving licences exceeded four million.

But in reality,just how dangerous are older drivers?

The young-versus-old driver data is used by a number of road safety charities to argue elderly drivers don't pose the greatest danger behind the wheel.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists told the BBC: "There's a stat that young drivers under the age of 24 have twice as many crashes as you'd expect, given the numbers on the road, and older drivers have half as many as you'd expect, given the number on the road."

Research by the RAC Foundation suggests drivers aged 75 and over make up just six per cent of all licence holders but account for just 4.3 per cent of all deaths and serious injuries. By contrast, drivers aged 16 to 20 make up just 2.5 per cent of all drivers but 13 per cent of those killed and seriously injured.

But although both charities believe older drivers are as safe as any other driver, there are some exceptions.

For reasons that are fairly obvious, the key dangerous locations are high-speed junctions, high-speed roundabouts and slip roads onto motorways and dual carriageways.

These are the locations where drivers are required to look around quickly and make quick decisions. It is here some drivers over the age of 70 struggle.

It seems that everywhere else – in towns, the countryside and when overtaking – they are as good as anybody else on the road.

There have been mutterings that those aged 70 and over should take a new driving test and maybe a medical examination but that currently isn't the case.

Once a driver reaches the age of 70, his or her licence expires, but this doesn't automatically mean they have to stop driving.

All any older driver needs to do to is renew their driving licence if they want to continue. And it has to be renewed every three years after that.

While I as doing some research for this, I came across an American website that gave, what I think, is very sensible advice for the 'more mature' driver.

Helpguide.org says: "If a driving situation makes you uncomfortable, avoid it. Many of us voluntarily begin to make changes in our driving practices as we get older by:

  • Driving only during daylight hours if seeing well at night is a problem
  • Staying off motorways and dual carriageways to avoid fast-moving traffic
  • Not driving in bad weather (rain, thunderstorms, snow, hail, ice)
  • Planning the route before leaving to feel more confident and avoid getting lost
  • Listening to the concerns of others

If relatives, friends, or others express concerns about your driving, it may be time to take a hard, honest look at your driving ability. Have a comprehensive driving evaluation performed by an occupational therapist. Brush up on your driving skills by taking a refresher course. Talk to your doctor about your ability to drive safely.

As someone with one eye on my 'golden years' this all sounds like very good advice.

The only problem is if I'd listened to the concerns my wife has about my driving, I'd have been on my bike years ago.