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Labour to abolish age-based driving tests

Labour to abolish age-based driving tests

Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today that Labour intends to abolish the mandatory requirement for age-based driving tests for people aged eighty years and over.

"Neither the Labour government nor older people have been happy with the rules surrounding driver licences and older people. The current regime is costly on older people, it is stressful, and it is unfair.

“We established a Review of Older Driver Licensing Policy, involving a Stakeholder Consultative Group and including representation from Grey Power. The group has reached a near unanimous consensus that there should not be a mandatory age-based on-road test.

“The Stakeholder Consultative Group’s preferred approach includes: No mandatory age-based on-road test; Retain the current GPs "medical fitness to drive" certificate at age 75, 80 and two yearly thereafter; The possibility of an optional on-road test in certain circumstances; Medical practitioners to make greater use of a range of conditional/restricted licence options; and Increased provision of educational materials.

“The Labour government will develop a new older driver licensing regime based on this framework – with no mandatory age-based on-road test for older drivers,” Helen Clark said.

Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven said that under the proposal, general practitioners will continue to be responsible for assessing medical fitness to drive for their older patients. There will continue to be a medical certificate required at age 75, 80, 82 and two-yearly thereafter.

“The final report and recommendations of the Stakeholder Consultative Group are due in June 2005. Final announcements will follow that report, including a timeframe for making the changes.

“Labour is also proposing several other changes to make the current older driver licensing system fairer and more user-friendly, which we hope to have in place early in 2006

“We will create a new ‘conditional’ older driver licence. Older drivers will have the choice of seeking either a full licence, or a conditional licence. The latter would have a slightly easier on-road test.

“This will cater for those older drivers who only want a local licence for driving to and from the shops, the doctor and around their local area. Where an older person needs to travel out of their local area on a regular basis, they would seek a full licence.

“We will also remove the 'automatic only' condition for older drivers. Currently, when an older driver aged 80 or over takes their on-road test in a vehicle with an automatic transmission, their licence restricts them to driving automatic vehicles only. The new Rule will permit older drivers to drive either an automatic or a manual vehicle.

“Since we came into government, Labour has done much to improve the driver licensing regime for older New Zealanders. However, these changes will make the system fairer still for older people,” Mr Duynhoven said.

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