Drivers: George an oldie but a goodie

ELDERLY drivers are generally well monitored by the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) according to head of Orange’s traffic committee Russell Turner.

Responding to the public outcry over more stringent testing for the elderly yesterday following an out of control vehicle being driven by a 90-year-old at Bondi, Cr Turner said during his years as member for Orange frequent callers to his office were drivers or family members complaining about a licence being taken away.

“Almost without exception when I talked to the RTA (Roads and Traffic Authority) as it was then, there was always a valid reason,” he said.

Cr Turner also said he believed the RTA worked in the best interests of elderly drivers who had no alternative of public transport.

“Often in my experience I would find they (RTA staff) would give people limited licences to not drive at night, or not drive out on the open road.

“There was one lady who lived on the Cargo Road who was given permission on a limited licence to drive in to the nearest shop and back home,” he said.

“I found them  [RTA staff] to be flexible and compassionate.”

Mr Turner said instances such as the one which occurred in Bondi yesterday could potentially happen more often in the future.

“People are living longer and longer, but I believe the system we have now works well and what happened yesterday was an exception.”

Roads and Maritime Service regulations: If you are 80 and over and currently hold a class C unrestricted licence you are not required to complete a practical driving assessment until you are 85, unless directed by your doctor. If you have a licence to drive a heavy vehicle you will need to pass a medical assessment and a driving test every year from age 80. You must pass all the assessments before your birthday.

Orange driver George White is in his 80th year and has been driving for 62 years.
He says drivers who got their licence back in 1951 as he did have had to embrace changing road rules, higher volumes of traffic but have the benefit of more modern vehicles.

“When I first started driving you had to stick your hand out the window to indicate a turn - that wasn’t so good in rain and snow,” he said.

But when it comes to drivers being a nuisance to others on the road, Mr White says he looks at the  younger generations.

“They just go as fast as they can to get on and off the roundabouts - especially the P-platers.

“There just seems to an overall loss of courtesy to each other on the roads.”

However he says some older drivers may benefit from refresher courses on road rules or changes.

An Orange policeman says there is a process to follow if someone calls about an elderly driver.

Sergeant Luke Blissett said elderly driver complaints aren’t sufficient to take someone off the road.

“We would have to target that driver and witness driving behaviour which has attracted the complaint.

“If appropriate we put in a question of fitness request to the RMS,” he said.

He said sometimes family members call, concerned over the fitness of a driver.

“Most people are pretty good and they know if the police turn up there has to be a reason,” Sergeant Blissett said.

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