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Support for Older Driver Testing Discriminatory

25 April 2005 For immediate release

Support for Older Driver Testing is Discriminatory says Grey Power

The negative reaction to Government plans to abolish special driving tests for older drivers is discriminating and ageist says Grey Power Vice President Don Chapman.

Mr Chapman says while Helen Clark’s announcement of the Government’s intention to abolish older driver licensing has been met with applause by the 84,000-strong membership of Grey Power, and an overwhelming number of retired New Zealanders, it has also attracted an alarming level of ill-informed discriminatory comment from members of the public and the media.

“The current procedure is stringent, alienating, ageist and costly for older drivers and we welcome news that the Government plans to eliminate it,” says Mr Chapman.

Mr Chapman says the LTSA’s concern for safety appears to have been focused on older people rather than other groups who are statistically accident-prone.

“We need to recognize that chronological age does not determine driver competency,” he says. “Our recent claim to the Human rights Commission on the basis on age discrimination has been recognized and it’s important to point out that an all-ages safety net driver policy currently exists to protect society and individuals,” he says.

“Individuals considered medically unfit are referred for driver comprehensive ability testing by occupational therapists and this removes the extreme risk (medication, eyesight, cognitive and dementia) often attributed to older people.”

Mr Chapman said 93 per cent of drivers over 80 eventually passed their tests and international research and policy comparison among the 29 other OECD member countries indicated serious statistical interpretation and policy flaws in the New Zealand approach to older drivers.

Over a ten year period the cumulative cost of licensing for the over 80’s, including medical and eye tests was $799.50 compared to only $44.50 for other age groups.

“We now need to develop a new policy framework that supports and enhances the mobility of older people while at the same time helping them to decide not to drive with dignity where appropriate,” he says.

Ends. Text 320 words.

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