Elderly in Tasmania trusted at last

An interesting story from the Mercury newspaper.

Compulsory driving tests for the elderly are being abolished. Maybe we will now be flooded with elderly people moving to Tasmania!

As the article says it will save the elderly some money but I am sure the government is counting on it saving them some money as well!

“COMPULSORY annual driving tests for drivers over the age of 85 will be abolished in October, with anti-discrimination and motoring groups labelling the policy as outdated and discriminatory.

RACT spokesman Vince Taskunas yesterday said subjecting senior drivers to the test caused undue stress and financial hardship and said drivers should be judged on the ability as motorist, regardless of age.

“RACT has lobbied strongly against this regulation since 2008, arguing that it is unfair, creates stress and additional financial hardship, and is insufficient in identifying impaired drivers,” Mr Taskunas said.

Mr Taskunas said the stereotypical myth that older drivers were a road hazard was unjust, and that Austroads research showed older drivers posed no more significant risk than younger motorists, due to their more cautious nature.

“Older Tasmanians should be able to drive their vehicle for as long as they are safe to do so,” he said.

“The evidence from Austroads research is that older drivers reduce their exposure to high risk times such as peak hour traffic or night driving, and drive fewer kilometres in total,” Mr Taskunas said.

“We also know older drivers are relatively unlikely to be in single-vehicle crashes, especially those involving loss of control, speeding, hooning, illicit drug-taking or other risky behaviours this is indicative of their cautious and conservative driving style.”

Sandy Bay man Colin Jacobson has been driving for almost 70 years has never had anything more than a parking ticket.

The 86-year-old received his licence in 1943 and did receive a speeding fine once, but fought the charge and won, leaving him with an exemplary driving record.

“I may have gotten a parking ticket once, but otherwise my driving record is unblemished,” Mr Jacobson said.

Mr Jacobson has taken the compulsory test twice and passed and said he still needed to drive most days, taking his wife, Eunice, for medical trips and other outings.

“I was born on New Year’s Day so I have received notice and completed the test during Christmas week, which is already stressful enough,” he said.

“My licence is important to me and my wife, so that I can take her where she needs to go, but I think my record shows my ability as a driver.”

Infrastructure Minister David O’Byrne announced the policy change yesterday, saying that a review crash statistics for older driver revealed they were not a major road safety risk in Tasmania.

“Between 2005 and 2009, drivers aged between 75 and 84 were involved in 4.1 per cent of serious casualty crashes and drivers 85 and over in just 1.3 per cent of serious casualty crashes,” Mr O’Byrne said.

Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, Robin Banks said the decision would help prevent stereotypical views of older drivers examples of social isolation and reduced activity.

“The improvements to the driver licensing system for older drivers recognise the importance of transport to older people continuing their contribution and participation in our community,” she said.

“Systems and decisions based on misconceptions and stereotyping need to be challenged and an evidence-based approach brought to bear.””

Do you think elderly drivers are cautious and not dangerous? Do you think this is a good move by the Tasmanian Government? Do you think the elderly will now move to Tasmania to keep their license!


Photo Credit: Nicholas_T via Compfight cc