A group of young people have converged in Melbourne for the annual Victorian Youth Parliament to debate matters of importance to them and to propose new legislation for the state.
One such proposal is making it mandatory for seniors to display an ‘S’ plate on their car when they are driving.
It’s not the first time such a proposition has been made. In November 2015, 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.
Under the scheme proposed by a group of students from Overnewton Anglican College, drivers aged 75 and older who fail medically assessed driving tests would have to display an ‘S’ plate and hold a modified Senior licence.
According to Victoria’s road transport authority, VicRoads, drivers aged 75 years and older are at highest risk of being involved in a fatal car crash, to which the Overnewton team says is as a result of “biological impairments” that affect the elderly as they age and includes diminished muscle tone, impaired hearing and vision, and a decrease in reaction time.
Those opposed to the proposal claimed a requirement to display an S plate is discriminatory and would expose the older population to humiliation.
In the last 30 years more than 24 laws passed in Victoria have had their origin in Youth Parliament, including the compulsory wearing of bicycle helmets and over-the-counter availability of the morning after pill.