Proposal: CAN calls for higher driving standards including retesting

Since CAN presented the 3,500-signature petition and 9-point plan in 2008, have we seen enough action to improve safety?

Driver competence is clearly an issue. So let's call for retesting.

You can start driving at around 15 or 16, and there's no check to see if you are up to date with road rules, just an eyesight test every 10 years.

Let's require drivers to demonstrate their competence evey 10 years. There's a duty of care that goes with operating a vehicle that can kill.

What else should we call for?


We need to get some facts right first. It is likely that the minimum licence age will go up to 16 soon (not high enough, but anyway...) and drivers are now tested for eyesight every ten years when renewing their licence. At any age now, I think that a doctor (or family member?) can refer someone to be practically re-tested if they're concerned about their ability, although I don't know what kind of take-up there is. Perhaps this area is where we need to target our efforts, e.g. all recidivist driving offenders having to re-sit test?

At the very least I've always thought that a renewing licence holder should at least be given some printed material and perhaps explained verbally about any new Rules or Traf.Ctrl Devices in the previous 10 years. That's not at the same level of rigour as a test obviously, but I suspect that many motorists are simply not aware of changes like the introduction of red arrows, flush medians, cycle lanes, multi-lane rdbts, etc over the years. Similarly, the nuances of parking on cycle lanes, giving way at ped xings, and other little Rule changes that have been introduced over the years could be reiterated.

yes, I also thought the eyesight testing was at every renewal. The idea of retesting offenders is a good one. What currently happens when a driving licence is "lost" as a penalty? Is it suspended for a period and then reinstated, or is it revoked so that the person needs to reapply when eligible?

A resit on theory at licence renewal makes sense, I don't think calling for a practical re-test is going to achieve much. It's a pity we can't do a brain scan for attitudes.

I think eye-sights are just one part of the whole issue. One can have a perfect 20/20 vision and still not be able to handle a one tonne vehicle hurtling at 50 kmph.

In my view, licence renewal should include doing thru practical driving to test if the driver is a) still conversant with basic hazard perception and b) up-to-date with changes in road rules. Anyone who fails is obviously not fit to drive and can be safely assumed to be an unsafe driver on the road, so don't renew the licence.



Sridhar is right that perfect eyesight does not mean competence to drive. And Glen is right that people can be referred for further testing, but I very much doubt that happens except when someone becomes a serious danger to his/her relatives.

I was involved in the Older Driver Licensing Review a few years back, and CAN's position was that the issue was really competence rather than driver age, and that people should be tested at regular (we suggested ten year) intervals. Sadly, that was considered outside the mandate of the review, and even more sadly the Government of the day (Labour-led) completely wimped out of dealing with the problem of competence by pushing the onus for triggering further testing off to GPs and/or family & friends.

Like many of you, probably, I have had direct experience of family (and friends) whose driving is getting more and more dodgy, and know that it is extraordinarily hard to say to someone that they are no longer up to it. Particularly for an older person, the issue is tied up with their feelings of adequacy and ability to interact with society, and it can be very destructive of their self-confidence to point out the things they are not noticing.

This is not a reason to do nothing, but for me it is a strong argument to have a regular testing system for everyone, so that those who need help (or need to stop) don't feel defensive and resistant. And - just as importantly - so that they are not left to continue driving until something awful happens, merely because nobody has the courage to raise the matter.