Call to test drivers every 10-15 years for road safety

Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian
RoadWise Geraldton chairman and former police officer Bob Hall.
Camera IconRoadWise Geraldton chairman and former police officer Bob Hall. Credit: Tamra Carr, The Geraldton Guardian.

The chairman of RoadWise Geraldton has called for mandatory driving tests every 10-15 years and a rising scale of registration fees for drivers who refuse to have regular vehicle inspections.

Bob Hall, a former police officer and a City of Greater Geraldton councillor, believes the measures would go a long way to reducing road carnage and improving driver behaviour.

He made the call after it emerged Geraldton drivers were rated the worst in the State for speeding through school zones.

He said the 1719 fines issued by local authorities last year was a horrible indictment on the city and was a result of driver education ending at getting a licence.

The Geraldton CBD, which has five schools clustered around Cathedral Avenue, topped the State for school-zone speeding in 2018, while Rangeway ranked No.9 on the WA Police worst suburbs list.

Cr Hall said speeding and other unsafe driver behaviour in Geraldton could be tackled through the introduction of mandatory driving tests every 10-5 years.

“Once you get your licence, that’s where it starts and finishes,” he said.

“People who work within health and look after people have to regularly upskill and meet changing standards. Why should people on our roads be any different?

“The frustrating thing is there’s no political will because of the costs and the problem of who’s going to pay for it.”

Cr Hall’s other recommendations to curb high car crash statistics include a requirement to learn to drive at least partially from qualified instructors, instead of just friends or family.

While he had no problems with people learning from their parents or older siblings, he said being experienced didn’t mean drivers met national standards, and bad habits were liable to rub off on learners.

He said another barrier to better road safety was people driving in “veritable death traps”.

Cr Hall said the Japanese addressed this problem by increasing the cost of registration every two years a vehicle was not inspected or traded. “You don’t see many shabby cars driving around Japan because of this,” he said.

“But Australia, because of the distance and the necessity to have a set of wheels, this could compromise mobility.”

He said regular car upgrades would also reduce expenses associated with oil leaks on the road, but he acknowledged not every motorists could afford to pay for regular inspections or new cars.

“Politicians don’t want to hurt their constituents, but where do you draw the line between hurting people financially and having road accidents?”

Cr Hall invited people concerned about road safety issues to join RoadWise Geraldton and put their ideas forward.

Residents who become members of RoadWise are asked to discuss problematic areas within Geraldton’s road system.

Members also link with relevant agencies to promote safe driving practices, persuade people to take an interest in vehicle inspections, bring regulatory changes to the public eye and continue road education via campaigns.

The group can lobby the State to update and improve the City’s road infrastructure, which was most notably done when Durlacher Street power poles were taken down to make way for underground power.

Cr Hall said this meant the pole formerly at the Durlacher Street and Chapman Road intersection, dubbed a “constant impact zone” was removed.

Those interested in local road safety are encouraged to contact the Western Australian Local Government Association’s Samantha Adams on 0419 953 583.

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails