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Published: 2002-07-10 00:00:00

Proposed changes to the driver licensing rules are likely to hit older rural drivers, according to Environment Waikato’s Regional Land Transport Committee.

This week’s meeting heard changes were proposed to driver licensing, allowing two options for older drivers. They could choose to sit the existing older driver test or a new conditional test which would restrict them to driving in areas with a speed limit of 80kph or less.

But South Waikato Mayor Gordon Blake said the changes could severely hurt rural drivers. He would prefer restricting the drivers to a given area, rather than a speed limit. The danger for most older drivers in rural areas was moving into an urban area, rather than speed.

“Once again these people are forgotten and severely penalised.”

Cr Jenni Vernon said older people in her area of Raglan did not drive to Hamilton and only drove to and from the town, which had all their basic needs. However this meant travelling on the open road.

“How are these people supposed to get around this situation. We have a couple stranded on their farm because they have to sit a test in Huntly.”

Councillors were also critical of the intention to set up a telephone booking system for practical driving tests, which would remove the need for people to go to the testing agent twice. A charge between $9.70 and $11.70 would be made for phone bookings and people could only pay by credit card. Many people did not have a credit card, especially the elderly.
The Committee is setting up a working party to develop a submission on the proposals.