Older drivers wont be branded
By EMMA O'NEILL firstname.lastname@example.org PUTTING 'S-plates' on the back of her Honda Jazz wouldn't bother 71-year-old Fay Donnelly, of Casino.
While the plates would identify Mrs Donnelly as a%senior citizen, she thinks it could make the roads safer.
"People would be a lot more cautious of drivers with plates," she said.
The idea of issuing senior citizens with S-plates for their cars was raised by some NRMA board members during a community consultation on the licensing of older drivers recently.
However, NRMA Motoring and Services president Alan Evans said the NRMA organisation did not support the idea. Motorists seem divided over the issue of S-plates.
Some drivers approached by The Northern Star said it would cause discrimination and bullying, while others, such as Mrs Donnelly, said issuing S-plates would not be going far enough.
Mrs Donnelly said older drivers should hand in their licence if they felt their skills had deteriorated.
"Your reflexes are worse as you get older and I've seen people who can hardly walk get into a car. I can't see how they'd have enough control," she said.
In July, 2007, the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) released its discussion paper, Licensing of Older Drivers.
The paper was designed%to reassess laws regarding%elderly drivers.
According to the paper, 'in the total NSW population, those who are 70 years or more, are consistently over-represented in the figures for car driver fatalities'.
While the idea of using%S-plates was not part of the RTA discussion paper, it was raised in submissions to the RTA during the three-month period when the paper was open for discussion.
The paper discussed changes to current legislation, such as lowering the age that drivers must undergo medical tests and the issuing of a 'local licence' for drivers aged 85, with a 10km radius restriction.
The paper also predicted that 'unless effective countermeasures were put in place, older driver casualty crashes may comprise about 25 to 30 per cent of all casualty crashes by 2025'.
Mrs Donnelly said it would be sad to part with her Honda Jazz if she ever felt her driving was unsafe, and using public transport in Casino would be difficult.
However, it was a sacrifice she would be willing to make. "It's too late to hand in your licence after you've killed a family of five," she said.