The Australian - Monday 8 May, 2006

Call for frequent road rules testing

By D.D.McNicoll
Page: 03
Section: The Nation
Region: National

ALL drivers should be forced to take a road rules test every five years and those who fail should be made to do a driving test, the Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman said yesterday.
Harold Scruby said that while NSW required drivers older than 80 to take an annual medical examination, the real problem was the vast number of drivers who had not studied the road rules for 20, 30 or 40 years.
``At least 90 per cent of the drivers on our roads obtained their licences before December 1, 1999, when the uniform Australia-wide road rules came into force,'' Mr Scruby said.
``Research carried out by the pedestrian council shows that fewer than 50 per cent of those drivers have any idea of the new road rules for things such as shared zones and school zones.''
Mr Scruby said that NSW Police Commissioner Ken Moroney had called several years ago for all drivers to be tested on the road rules when they renewed their licences but he had been immediately overruled by the then premier, Bob Carr because such testing would have been unpopular with voters.
``We single out the elderly for testing when the real problem is the ageing baby boomers who haven't been tested since they first got their licences at 17 -- more than 40 years ago, in some cases,'' Mr Scruby said.
``Doctors, lawyers and even real estate agents have to renew their licences to practise and prove they are keeping up to date but drivers think that once they have a licence they never have to study again.''
The NSW Roads and Traffic Authority said yesterday that NSW was one of only a few states to require an annual medical exam, including an eyesight test, for drivers older than 80 and an in-vehicle test for drivers older than 85.
The driving test is similar to that for novice drivers and is conducted by RTA officers who have completed an older drivers awareness training program.


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