The process of obtaining "fitness to drive" certification for NSW motorists over the age of 75 has been streamlined and simplified by the state government.
Older drivers are, however, still required to undergo an annual GP and optometrist assessment.
The documentation can now be completed by a relevant medical professional online and customers no longer need to visit a Service NSW Centre to have it ratified, a Transport for NSW spokesperson told CarAdvice.
“Once submitted online, patients receive instant confirmation from the health professional their report has been securely transmitted to Transport for NSW and their driving record has been updated,” the spokesperson added.
“The time and costs involved in handling, distributing and duplicating paper-based patient information will also be reduced, significantly improving efficiency for practices.
“Two generic online forms have been replaced by 12 specialist focused online forms, removing the need for doctors to strike out non relevant information.
“Customers will still receive a request letter from Transport for NSW in the mail advising when the assessment is due.”
Russell White, the founder and managing director of Driver Safety Australia welcomed the government initiative to make it simpler and more accessible for older drivers to process their fitness to drive.
“We have two big spikes for road safety. One is when people are first on their (learner) and (provisional licences), and then equally from the time you turn 50 we start to see an incline in road stats on a similar trajectory to what was at the other end with the younger drivers.”
“Clearly there is something that is an issue at both ends,” Mr White told CarAdvice.
Transport for NSW cited figures showing a total of 32 drivers over the age of 65 were killed on NSW roads between January and August, 2019. In the same period just 18 drivers under the age of 29 were killed.
Earlier this year CarAdvice reported almost 20 per cent of middle-aged Australians found it difficult to read road signs.
The regulations imposed on older drivers vary from state to state. In NSW, once drivers are 75 years old, they need to have a medical review every year to keep their licence, regardless of the class of licence they hold. (See Are you fit to drive? for more information).
In NSW drivers between 80 and 84 years old, and hold a car (class C) or rider (class R) unrestricted licence, don’t need to take a practical driving assessment, however they do need to have a medical review every year to keep their licence.
In NSW, once drivers reach 85 years old, they will need to have a medical review every year to keep their licence.
Drivers aged 85 and over have the choice of taking out a modified licence, or keeping their unrestricted licence. If they wish to keep their unrestricted licence, they will need to successfully pass a practical driving assessment. To keep their unrestricted motorcycle rider licence (Class R) they will need to undertake an aged Practical Skills Test every second year.
A modified licence lets drivers aged 85 and over keep driving under certain circumstances. These circumstances are added to the licence as conditions, which are printed on the back of the card. You must comply with the conditions on your licence when driving. Examples of conditions can include daylight hours only, and a limited range from home.
Unlike NSW, there is no age threshold in Victoria for compulsory medical checks, however licensed drivers in the state are legally obliged to notify VicRoads if they develop any physical or cognitive impairments that might affect their ability to operate a vehicle.
Tasmania and the Northern Territory have similar rules to Victoria. Licensed senior drivers do not need to complete regular medical checks, however they are required to disclose any conditions that might affect their driving ability as soon as possible.
If you are 75 or older in Queensland you must have a valid motor vehicle driver medical certificate – completed by your doctor – with you at all times when driving. The form must be renewed every 13 months.
In South Australia drivers over the age of 75 are sent self-assessment "fitness to drive" forms each year and, if any issues arise in the questionnaire, the applicant is required to visit a doctor.
Drivers aged 80 or over in Western Australia are required to have annual medical assessments before they can renew their licence. While the state used to enforce practical driving assessments for motorists over 85, this is now only required only if a doctor recommends one.
Drivers older than 75 in the Australian Capital Territory are required to undergo an annual doctor examination.