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Overhauling Licence Laws

February 25th, 2006 at 10:39pm

Surgeons are being very careful about the way they ask for the minimum licencing age to be increased, by putting it somewhere in the middle of a request for uniform licence laws. The useful and interesting part of their request is this statement by Dr Russel Stitz, President of The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons

The parts of the brain that address reasoning and impulsive behaviour don’t fully mature until the age of 25 particularly in males, so if we’re looking at processes to improve the road toll in those age groups then patently we need to take that into consideration

I must say that I agree with this, although I do think some people mature at an earlier age than others. What we really lack in our licencing system is a rigorous common sense test, and car power restrictions.
Having been through college and seen many friends gain licences and subsequently add more lunacy to the roads, I really think we shouldn’t be letting anyone learn to drive until at least 18 years of age. In my view, driving a motor vehicle is an inherently adult activity, and something which requires a truly mature person with a level head.

Despite this minimum, I am not proposing that we merely increase the minimum ages for various driving activities, I am also suggesting that training should be longer and harder, with a requirement for a professional instructor (either an instructor or someone who drives for a living such as a bus or truck driver with a clean record), and we need some kind of common sense test. The last part may be hard to implement, but it would certainly save a lot of carnage. I would also force drivers to resit these tests every five years, and existing drivers to be bound by the new laws. Yes, that means removing a lot of people who would be underage under the new laws from the roads.

I would also remove licence fees, for those with a clean record, but increase them by $100 for every demerit point accumulated. I would also overhaul the demerit point system to be tougher.

Some may see these ideas as draconian measures, but if we are serious about saving lives on our roads, then we need to consider this kind of thing, and this is a good start. It would probably remove about 20% of road users, but they would be the 20% likely to kill you or your family, the 20% who don’t consider the consequences of travelling 30km/h over the speed limit on a wet and bendy road, the 20% that really shouldn’t have been issued with licences in the first place.

Draconian…maybe, sensible…yes!

Samuel

Entry Filed under: Samuel's Editorials

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15 Comments

  • 1. Chuck Berry  |  February 26th, 2006 at 12:15 am

    If you were running for a seat in parliament and this was your platform, I would vote for you. I don’t know why suggestions like you have mentioned above, have not yet been applied.

  • 2. wonko the sane  |  February 26th, 2006 at 4:22 am

    ‘What we really lack in our licencing system is a rigorous common sense test, and car power restrictions.’

    ‘In my view, driving a motor vehicle is an inherently adult activity, and something which requires a truly mature person with a level head.’

    Sam, my friend, you are a wowser.

    For a look on the other side of the coin, let’s look to a REAL right-winger like PJ O’Rourke for advice:

    ‘Anything that makes your mother cry is fun. Sigmund Freud wrote all about this. It’s a well-known fact.

    ‘Of course, it’s a shame to waste young lives behaving this way — speeding around all tanked up with your feet hooked in the steering wheel while your date crawls around on the floor mats opening zippers with her teeth and pounding on the accelerator with an empty liquor bottle. But it wouldn’t be taking a chance if you weren’t risking something. And even if it is a shame to waste young lives behaving this way, it is definitely cooler than risking old lives behaving this way. I mean, so what if some fifty-eight-year-old butt-head gets a load on and starts playing Death Race 2000 in the rush-hour traffic jam? What kind of chance is he taking? He’s just waiting around to see what kind of cancer he gets anyway. But if young, talented you, with all of life’s possibilities at your fingertips, you and the future Cheryl Tiegs there, so fresh, so beautiful — if the two of you stake your handsome heads on a single roll of the dice in life’s game of stop-the-semi — now that’s taking chances! Which is why old people rarely risk their lives. It’s not because they’re chicken — they just have too much dignity to play for small stakes.’

    PJ also agrees with you Sam. He said something along the lines of ‘It’s not drugs we should be tested for. It’s ignorance and stupidity’.

  • 3. wonko the sane  |  February 26th, 2006 at 4:25 am

    And the gold medal goes to Chuck.

  • 4. John B1_B5  |  February 26th, 2006 at 7:15 am

    That statement by Dr.Stitz is no doubt true — Males under 25 tend to regard themselves as being ‘indestructible’ , but ironically, it was this mindset that produced a large percentage of the pilots during the Battle of Britian. —- They had the planes, but not enough pilots to man them, and the main reason was that very few males over 24 were volunteering to be trained as pilots, because once they reached that age, they started to become more aware of their mortality. On the other hand, 20 year olds didn’t seem to worry about that !
    It seems things have not changed all that much since 1940, and this concept of ‘indestructibility’ in the minds of under 25 year old males is still manifesting itself on Australian roads today.

    So what do we do about it ? Do we disallow males under 25 from getting a licence ? Is that mindset of ‘indestructibility’ something we could well do without, once and for all ? — The ‘easy’ answer would be a resounding “yes” , but society is more complex than that.

    To disallow males under 25 from obtaining a licence would be unfair, to say the least . That recklessness exhibited on the roads by young males is something we will just have to accept as part of the normal biological process ….. Obviously we need more ‘education’ targeted at that age group, but to ban them outright from driving a vehicle is not the answer, and to completely eliminate that ‘bulletproof’ mentality (by whatever means), could well come back to bite us on the ankle further down the track, should Australia (God forbid) ever face its own “Battle of Britain” situation .

    That particular attribute WILL be needed, in one form or another for the forseeable future, and whether we like it or not, we need to take a step back and have a long detailed look at the big picture, rather than a quick (and simplistic) glance at the ‘thumbnail’ version .

  • 5. Samuel  |  February 26th, 2006 at 11:01 am

    Yes John, a minimum age limit of 25 would be chaos, hence the reason I didn’t suggest 25.

    I think we need to a tougher stance on “indestructibility” type behaviour when it manifests itself on the roads, there are plenty of other places where it is much more appropriate.

    “Indestructibility” type behaviour is a fact of life, always will be, we just need to take a tougher stance on it when used in inappropriate places such as our roads. There are plenty of other places where such behaviour is acceptable.

  • 6. flakey blondie samspam  |  February 26th, 2006 at 2:05 pm

    What about the older driver. Who may have the start of memory loss , and there reflex skills might not be as strong seen their youth.
    Is there be an age where a person is considered too old to be on the roads??

  • 7. Samuel  |  February 26th, 2006 at 3:22 pm

    I don’t know about a specific age for being deemed “too old”, as everyone’s health deteriorates at different rates. Possibly it would be a good idea to increase the tests to annually for the first five years of driving, and again after 65 years of age or a similar figure.

  • 8. seepi  |  February 26th, 2006 at 5:30 pm

    You may just end up with more unlicensed (thus uninsured) drivers on the roads.
    Also some say learning to drive is best done as a teen.

  • 9. Chuck Berry  |  February 26th, 2006 at 9:06 pm

    Another quote from that hard-bitten, cigar smoking conservative PJ O’Rourke:

    “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” — P.J. O’Rourke, Parliament of Whores

  • 10. Chuck Berry  |  February 26th, 2006 at 9:07 pm

    This is why I would vote for Samuel.

  • 11. wonko the sane  |  February 27th, 2006 at 12:14 am

    Parliament of Whores is one of my favourite books of all time.

    Have you read it Sam?

    It should be at your local library.

  • 12. heatseeker  |  February 27th, 2006 at 11:12 am

    Hold on, let me get this straight, Samuel’s proposing that young people – males in particular – be prevented from driving until such a time they are so old their hand-to-eye coordination, reaction times and eye sight have deteriorated to the point they’re even more dangerous?

    Please explain!

  • 13. Samuel  |  February 27th, 2006 at 9:53 pm

    seepi, my proposition of 18 as the minimum age for learning to drive still fits in with the theory held by some that learning to drive is best done as a teen.

    Wonko, no I haven’t read it, although I may try and track it down.

    heatseeker, no, that is not what I’m proposing and you know it.

  • 14. wonko the sane  |  February 28th, 2006 at 2:30 am

    Its good Sam. It attempts to explain government. American government, granted, but there are some interesting parallels with our government.

    Here’s a quote:

    “The American political system is like a gigantic Mexican Christmas fiesta. Each political party is a huge pinata — a papier-mache donkey, for example. The donkey is filled with full employment, low interest rates, affordable housing, comprehensive medical benefits, a balanced budge and other goodies. The American voter is blindfoled and given a stick. The voter then swings the stick wildly in every direction, trying to hit a political candidate on the head and knock some sense into the silly bastard.” – P.J. O’Rourke

  • 15. Samuel  |  February 28th, 2006 at 2:34 am

    Great quote, I’ve added it to the random quote list.


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