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Older driver tests to be abolished

Older driver tests to be abolished

Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today that new transport rules abolishing the mandatory on-road driving test for those aged 80 and over will come into effect on December 4 this year.

"Last year, Labour promised to abolish the mandatory driving test because it was costly on older people, stressful, and unfair. This year, we are delivering on our promise," Helen Clark said.

Under the new system:
• The existing mandatory on-road driving test for those aged 80 and over will cease;
• At ages 75, 80, 82, and at two yearly intervals thereafter, drivers renewing their licence will require a medical certificate showing they are fit to drive (as is the situation at present);
• The Medical Certificate for Driver Licence will be revised to make it simpler and easier for doctors to complete;
• GPs will have the option of referring a medically fit driver aged 75 and over for an on-road safety test if they are concerned about their ability to drive safely;
• Supporting education and information will be available for older people, their families and the community as well as GPs;
• A subsidy will be available for a private on-road driving lesson with an approved driving instructor for Safe with Age course participants from early 2007

"The abolition of the mandatory driving test is good news for older New Zealanders," Senior Citizens Minister Ruth Dyson said.

"For many older New Zealanders, a car is an important means of getting around independently. Our Labour-led government recognises the importance of the law governing older drivers being fair."

Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven said the new measures will remove the stress and cost of taking the test for most older drivers without compromising road safety. The new regime will ensure that older drivers' safety and that of other road users is preserved.

"An additional $550,000 will be made available to expand the popular 'Safe With Age" driver refresher course. Anyone who attends this course will be eligible for a subsidised private on-road driving lesson from 2007.

"I thank Grey Power and all those who contributed to the Review of Older Driver Licensing Policy and the Stakeholder Consultative Group," Harry Duynhoven said.

The Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Amendment Rule (No 2) 2006 will come into effect on 4 December 2006. Age-based driving tests cannot cease before this date as Land Transport New Zealand has to make a number of significant system changes to set up the new Older Driver Licensing system, as well as prepare communications for older drivers, their families and GPs and carry out staff training.

The signing of the rule follows a public consultation with ninety submissions received. The vast majority of submissions supported the removal of the mandatory older driver test.


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