Roads and Transport departments in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia have relaxed licensing conditions for older drivers during the COVID-19 outbreak.
UPDATE 3/4/20 - Northern Territory's Motor Vehicle Registry has confirmed it does not require age-based medical assessment, however does assess driving capability based on medical fitness to drive. Drivers struggling to obtain medical assessment can contact the Motor Vehicle Registry to discuss their individual situation.
Elderly motorists – classified as those over the age of 75 (or 70 in South Australia) – require additional medical certification to hold a driver’s licence.
However, due to coronavirus transmission concerns, an overloaded healthcare system and an increased risk for older people to be exposed to the illness, several states have removed or suspended this requirement.
In New South Wales – the first state to ease laws – drivers over 75 who are not considered high risk are no longer required to undertake a medical review to renew a licence.
“We know the elderly are highly affected by this virus,” Transport for NSW secretary Rodd Staples said.
“We want to get ahead of the game to ensure they are not making unnecessary trips where they could potentially be exposed to the virus.”
For those in NSW over 75 who hold a heavy vehicle licence or are considered high risk, medical assessments can be deferred for up to 12 months.
In Victoria, all mandatory medical review driving assessments have been suspended until further notice.
“To protect the health and wellbeing of our staff and customers, we have temporarily suspended all medical review driving assessments,” a VicRoads spokesperson told CarAdvice.
“We ask for everyone’s understanding as we seek to protect the health and safety of our staff and customers. The advice is clear: if you can stay home, you must stay home.”
CarAdvice believes VicRoads’ suspension of medical reviews will be in place for at least three months, however the department will review the situation in the coming weeks and months.
South Australia’s Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure will halt indefinitely the medical assessment requirement for licence holders over 70 years of age.
“The need for people to attend a medical practitioner to complete a Certificate of Fitness to retain a driver’s licence has been temporarily halted to ease the load on the state’s medical system,” the department said in a statement.
Revisions to South Australian legislation also include extensions in the time to submit medicals currently issued, a pause on reminder notices for overdue medicals until further notice and a deferral of licence suspensions for failing to submit a medical assessment.
Queensland’s Transport and Main Roads department is currently in the process of reviewing its legislation, however no alterations have yet been made.
“We are aware older Queensland drivers are having trouble accessing a doctor to renew their medical certificate,” a Transport and Main Roads spokesperson told CarAdvice.
“The solution requires a change to the rules, and we are working to solve this as quickly as possible. Older drivers may be able to access telemedicine to meet this requirement in the meantime.”
Queensland requires elderly drivers to produce a medical certificate stating they are fit to drive annually. A certificate is valid for 13 months.
Queensland also warns against elderly motorists driving without a valid certificate in the interim as it may result in their insurance being void in the case of an accident.
CarAdvice has reached out to Western Australia and Tasmanian road authorities for comment and will update this story once we receive their responses.