Victoria’s new top traffic cop has called for doctors to dob in elderly motorists and other patients who they deem unfit to operate a vehicle in a bid to reduce the road toll.
Assistant commissioner Stephen Leane has encouraged general practitioners across the state to report any patient who could potentially be a danger on the road, the Herald Sun reports.
Speaking to the publication in his first interview since securing a new road policing role, Leane said stricter measures need to be put in place to ensure everyone is safe behind the wheel.
According to evidence released earlier this year at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons annual scientific congress, an increasing number of older drivers are involved in road crash incidents across the country.
The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics data from 2007 and 2018, found road fatalities for drivers aged 65 to 74 and 75-plus, have increased 2.3 per cent and 1.2 per cent per annum respectively.
The data also revealed road related hospitalisations from injury for 65- to 74-year-olds and those aged over 75 had increased 9 per cent in comparison to 1.8 per cent for their younger counterparts.
As well as cracking down on dangerous drivers, the assistant commissioner said he will also work with the police and other agencies to influence young people and older drivers to invest in newer and safer vehicles.
“If mum or dad are still driving and they are in their early 70s maybe it’s time to not let them save the nest egg to pass on to the children but to get them to update their car to a safer one,” he told the Herald Sun.
His views were praised by 4BC reporter Ben Davis who also suggested the introduction of S-plates for senior drivers to help distinguish them on the road.
Speaking on Channel Seven’s Sunrise, Davis said the aim would not be to single them out, but to ensure other motorists take more precaution when travelling near them.
“I had a lot of people phone up and say that their mum and dad should not be driving, they are too old, the eyesight and hearing is gone but the doctors are just ticking boxes,” he explained.
This is not the first time S-plates have been suggested. Back in 2016 a group of young people at the annual Victorian Youth Parliament, proposed new legislation to make it mandatory for seniors to display an S-plate on their car when driving.
Just months before, national insurer QBE made a similar suggestion whereby seniors would obtain scores from a black box-style device installed in their car that would then be passed on to licensing authorities, replacing prescribed medical tests and driving exams.
Back then peak body for Australian seniors, National Seniors Australia, hit back at suggestions car accidents and driver fatalities involving older people only occurred because of the person’s age.
“We would say this is fundamentally an ageist approach that identifies older people unfairly and inappropriately,” the WA-based NSA chairman, David Carvosso said.