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Government to amend licence process for seniors

Friday 12 February 2021 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National

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Government to amend licence process for seniors
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Prime Minister Mark Brown says the drivers licencing regulation for 60 years and over is providing ‘unnecessary burden on people’.

Government will be looking at options to revoke the controversial driver’s licence criteria that now applies to those aged 60 and over.

Last month Cook Islands Police advised that all drivers from the age of 60 and older must undergo a medical examination (including eye test) and provide certification when obtaining or renewing their driver’s licence. They are also required to renew their licences every year.

The regulation drew strong criticism, including an appeal from the Opposition Democratic Party to the government to get rid of the “very unfair and discriminative” requirements.

Prime Minister Mark Brown yesterday acknowledged public comments regarding the licencing requirement for those who are over 60 years of age and the need for them to undergo medical tests and eye tests “at such an early age”.

Brown said he has looked at the licencing regulations followed in Australia and New Zealand, especially the requirements for older drivers, and “it doesn’t start until the age of 75 years”.

The Cabinet will be requesting Police and Crown Law to redraft new regulations “to be more in line with what the regulations are in countries like New Zealand and Australia”, he said.

“When tourism does start, we will get visitors from New Zealand and Australia, and their licences are valid here in the Cook Islands. So to have licences that are similar to the Cook Islands licences is what we are really looking at here, and not place an unnecessary burden on people to go and get a medical check every year when they are still a very youthful 60 years old,” Brown said.

“That will be something coming up in the pipeline and hopefully we can sort the situation out very quickly.”

According to the Transport (Motor Driver Licensing) Regulations 2016: “A licence issued to a person aged 60 years or over is valid for a year”.

In terms of medical examination, the Regulation says: “Every applicant for a licence who is aged 60 years or over must undergo a medical examination and provide a medical certificate as to his or her fitness to drive a vehicle of the relevant class”.

The Transport (Motor Driver Licensing) Regulations came into effect in 2016 through an order in Executive Council.

Unlike laws, regulations do not go through the Bill process before becoming passed as law in Parliament. A regulation is created by a government agency to often implement an established law.