Youth Parliament calls for tests for older drivers

Elderly drivers have come under fire at the Youth Parliament, with Sebastopol’s Phoenix Community College team gaining overwhelming support for a bill calling for mandatory driving tests for motorists over 65.

While state Parliament has been in recess this week, the 26th sitting of Youth Parliament has taken place.
Since YMCA Youth Parliament was established, 20 bills first tabled by students have gone on to be endorsed by government and become legislation.

Six students from year 12 and one from year 11 at Phoenix P12 Community College said their bill was aimed at reducing Victoria’s road toll and was not an attack on senior citizens.

Team member Maddison Sharp, 17, said elderly drivers were over-represented in the road toll.

TAC statistics show that in 2013, 45 people aged 75 and over were killed on Victorian roads, compared with 35 in 2012 – despite an overall drop of 14.3 per cent in the 2013 toll.

From 2008 to 2012, on average, 37 people aged 75 and overwere  killed on Victoria’s roads each year.

“It is not our intention to deprive the elderly of their right to drive, but to facilitate appropriate testing that would allow our roads to be safe and for our older citizens not be a risk, or at risk,” Maddison said.

United Way Ballarat has a team of senior volunteers who mentor young Learner drivers.

Driving mentor Bill Hammond, 69, said after obtaining his licence in 1970 and driving a 22-seater bus for 44 years without an accident, he would class himself as a safe driver.

‘’I see a lot of young people who should never have got their licence. They think it’s their right to drive without respect for other road users.”

Kevin Murphy, who also volunteers as a driving instructor, said testing bad drivers, not older drivers, made more sense.

“Anyone caught speeding numerous times in a short period, regardless of age, should have to sit a competency test, as well as the demerit points,” he said.

“I am also a volunteer for the fire brigade, which houses the region’s rescue vehicle. I can safely say the elderly are not the most dangerous people on the road.

“Yes, elderly do need licence testing, but 65 is a long way off the mark”.

YMCA Victoria Youth Parliament is a program designed to give young Victorians aged 16 to 25 a chance to be heard on a range of youth issues.

Published in The Ballarat Courier, July 3 2014
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