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Older driver test ends

4 December 2006 Media Statement

Older driver test ends

Prime Minister Helen Clark today welcomed the removal of the mandatory on-road driving test every two years for people aged 80 years and over.

From today, older drivers no longer have to undergo a mandatory test, putting an end to a practice which has been the cause of much concern for older New Zealanders.

"In 2005, Labour promised to abolish the mandatory driving test for those aged 80 and over. The new law delivers on our promise and is good news for older drivers who, like all New Zealanders, wish to be independent," Helen Clark said.

Under the new system:

- At age 75, 80, 82 and at two yearly intervals, drivers renewing their licence will require a medical certificate showing they are fit to drive as presently required;
- The Medical Certificate for Driver Licence has been revised to make it simpler and easier for doctors to complete;
- GPs will have the option of referring any medically fit driver aged 75 and over to take an on-road safety test if they are concerned about their ability to drive;
- Supporting education and information is available for older people, their families and the community, as well as GPs.

"An additional $550,000 will also be made available to expand the popular ‘Safe With Age’ driver refresher course and anyone who attends this course will be eligible for a subsidised private on-road driving lesson from 2007," Helen Clark said.

"The abolition of the mandatory driving test will remove the stress of older people taking the test without unduly compromising road safety. The new provisions, coupled with some of the existing ones, will help ensure that their safety and that of other road users is preserved," Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven said.

Senior Citizens Minister Ruth Dyson said that in many cases older people make relatively short journeys in their car and do not embark on major trips up and down the country. A car enables them to get themselves to shops, see friends and generally travel around.

The Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Amendment Rule (No 2) 2006 was approved earlier in the year but a lead time of five months was provided to enable Land Transport New Zealand to make system changes, prepare communication programmes for both older drivers and General Practitioners, and undertake staff training.

The introduction of the new law came after a public consultation programme which drew 90 submissions, the vast majority of which supported the removal of the mandatory older driver test.

ENDS

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