100-year-old man still drives Kia Picanto every day: Driving since he was 13, 87 years of experience, and used to drive heavy vehicles in World War 2

After dropping out of school at the age of 13, Eric began his career behind the wheel of a three-ton truck, and he has been driving for 87 years.

From then on, he has hardly moved off the open road, from riding motorcycles to taking charge of double-decker buses.

Eric says: “I love it. I’ve been driving all my life and I still love it as much as I did when I started.

“It’s what I learnt to do when I was very young.”

Eric insists there is nothing he did in his 60s that he can’t do now.

Taking care of his immaculate garden, cleaning windows or even climbing up to clear the gutters of his bungalow in Sturry Road, all these things he can deal with easily

Up until last year, he would drive to Devon to house-sit because the home’s owners were worried about him trekking across the country.

“They worry about my age rather than what I can do,” he says.

According to surveys, the average age at which people give up driving is 75.

Meanwhile, the number of people contacting the DVLA worried about a driver’s ability behind the wheel is rising. In 2022, the figure was 48,754, up 82% on the previous year.

But it wasn’t until the age of 94 that Eric started to question whether he should still be on the road.

He was watching ITV’s 100-Year-Old Driving School, which followed motorists in their 90s and older undergoing an assessment overseen by examiners.

“I was damn certain I was better than they are,” he says.

“But then I wondered if it was me thinking I was better than I am.

“Some of them should not be driving and it was them who made me think seriously about myself.”

There is no legal age limit at which people must stop driving and it is up to road users themselves to determine if they are fit enough to do so.

Driving licenses expire when the holder reaches 70 but motorists simply have to renew it every three years with the DVLA.

But Eric wanted to put his mind at rest. In 2017, he applied for a government-approved assessment and showed up at a test centre in Thanington.

“The driving instructor came and looked at me,” Eric explains. “He said: ‘Are you Mr Dixon?’

“I told him I was and he expected me to have a walking stick as I was 94.”

The assessment included a nurse carrying out physical checks and asking Eric questions about his health.

He says the driving test was the toughest he had taken as “it included so much more” than others. But he still got “10 out of 10”.

Eric got his first job in 1937 in London as tensions were building ahead of the Second World War.

“All the men were being called up, and if you could do a job, they were not bothered about your age,” he says.

He got a job in a woodyard before moving to the London Fire Brigade at the height of the Blitz, following the station officer’s fire engine in a small 250cc motorcycle.

“Wherever he went, he would write messages and I would take them back to the station,” he says.

He secured a job at road haulage firm Pickfords when he was 15, delivering parcels and having driving lessons as he was only self-taught.

“On my 17th birthday, I passed my driving test and I went out on my own on a lorry,” he says.

“I got called up in the army when I was 18 where I did three driving tests, including for heavy goods vehicles and trailers.

“A fortnight after coming out of the army, I was so bored so I got a job with East Kent Road Car Company in 1947, a big bus company, that I was with for 37 years.”

He drove double-decker buses for the first three years before being transferred to the continental division, where he spent more than two decades.

Eric says he could drive from Kent to any capital of Europe without a map or signposts.

During his last years at the firm, he was in charge of the heavy recovery unit before he retired in 1984.

But despite quitting work, Eric has continued to lead a life on the roads with no sign of slowing down and his passion for driving remains just as strong.

He rustles behind some birthday cards on a nearby shelving unit and produces a framed photograph of a Skoda, which he owned for 13 years.

And in the autumn last year, he bought his first Kia Picanto – although that didn’t last long.

“We went down to Mole Country Stores in Canterbury, parked in a bay and went in there for 10 minutes,” he says.

“A supervisor came up to me and told me an articulated lorry had backed into it.

“It put a couple of big dents in the body and it was written off.”

But he managed to buy a younger model of the car and is very happy with his new ride.

The only time Eric had points on his license was in the 1940s when he says he parked on zig-zag road lines in London.

He was in a minor crash when he was driving a bus in his younger years, but he was not at fault.

Asked how the roads have changed over the decades, he says: “There was always plenty of courtesy and it was one thing that was drilled into me when I was learning to drive.

“There are no manners today.

“Canterbury has got busier and it will get worse.

“Potholes are the worst they have ever been.”

Eric has a remarkable bill of health. He does not use a walking stick and is not visited by carers.

“I am not on any medication,” he says.

“I lived on bags of fruit and vegetables from a boy during the war. You had to or you would go hungry.”

Eric celebrated his 100th birthday last Sunday, describing it as “absolutely brilliant”.

He received his card from the King and Queen – and admits he has more cake than he knows what to do with.

Eric says the best moments in his life were meeting his wife Christine, who died from cancer in 1988, and his current partner of 14 years, Margaret – who also happens to be his next-door neighbour.

They look after each other, with Eric washing the white clothes and Margaret doing the coloured clothes for the two bungalows.

But what is the secret to finding love later on in life?

“With younger people, sex comes into it – but obviously, it doesn’t with us,” Eric chuckles.

“You have to learn to give and take. Do not expect to dominate each other – that is the key to success.”

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