A Close Margin: Students Push for Seniors to Display ‘S Plates’

By Christiane Barro

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Students from Overnewton Anglican College say S Plates and modified licenses are imperative to decrease the crash risk of senior drivers. Credit: Lexie Huculak

 

Students from Overnewton Anglican College have failed to pass a bill at Youth Parliament this afternoon aimed at ensuring strict new conditions for senior drivers.

Under the proposed scheme, drivers aged 75 and older who fail a medically assessed driving test would have to display ‘S Plates’ and hold a modified Senior License.

The bill was unsuccessful by a mere one vote, with 27 refuters and 26 supporters.

The Overnewton team aimed to ensure more awareness of senior drivers and increased safety on Victorian roads.

VicRoads found drivers 75 and over have the highest risk of being in a fatal car crash.

45 senior drivers were killed in 2013, compared to 35 in 2012.

The Overnewton team said this is a result of biological impairments that affect the elderly as they age. This includes diminished muscle tone, impaired hearing and vision and decreased reaction time.

Youth Premier Omar Al Dabel weighed in on the debate and said, “We are not trying to shift blame but remedy a problem that is going to come about in the aging population.”

Team member, Lachlan Stevenson said, “It’s not a positive statistic as it is and the absence of this bill means it is not going to change.”

The opposition repeatedly argued the requirement of displaying S Plates is discriminatory and exposes the elderly to humiliation.

Overnewton team member Sam Tenni said their aim was not to attach a negative stigma to senior drivers but to ensure elderly drivers and other road users are protected.

“Would you rather have damaged pride of senior citizen or a dead senior citizen?” he said.

Mr Tenni said the opposition could not look past the idea of S Plates and failed to consider the three tiers of their bill.

Tier 1 stated divers that satisfy all criteria are able to drive without S Plates and a modified license.

Tier 2 enforces seniors who partially satisfy the criteria must display S Plates and hold a modified license. The modified license would restrict driving between 11pm to 5am and require a blood alcohol content of 0.00.

Tier 3 revokes the driver’s license of seniors if they fail a medically assessed driving test.

“They really looked at it on face value. They really came from a narrow mindset,” he said.

“If there was more depth into the reading of many of the clauses, then there would have been a different outcome,“ Mr Tenni said.

The opposition said their main concern was with the wearing of S Plates and not the implementation of modified licenses.

“Many different demographics have modified licenses so why don’t we just modify their licenses,” Estella Howse-Fleming from Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammer School said.

Mr Stevenson said another major reason behind the failed result of the bill was due to the high level of emotion parliamentarians invested into the debate.

“When you get highly emotional, the emotions pours over and you start thinking less about the rational implications of what will occur and more about how you and how people will feel about this.”

Overnewton team member Natasha Anderson said despite putting up a well-researched and passionate debate, they were saddened by the failure of their bill to pass Youth Parliament.

“We’re disappointed that our clauses didn’t get a chance to stand up as actual legislation,” Miss Anderson said.

 

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