Michelle Lensink

Motor Vehicles (Emergency Contact Details) Amendment Bill

This bill seeks to make two optional changes to drivers' licences through amendments to sections 77A and 136 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1959. The two options are, first, to include contact details on drivers' licences and, secondly, to include blood type details on drivers' licences.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill seeks to make two optional changes to drivers' licences through amendments to sections 77A and 136 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1959. The two options are, first, to include contact details on drivers' licences and, secondly, to include blood type details on drivers' licences. This bill arose from a rather sad situation that was highlighted by the member for Davenport in his second reading explanation on 4 December 2002 in moving this bill in another place. A couple whose son had been injured in a car crash did not find out for about 16 hours because the authorities were unable to notify the parents. This bill was also previously on the Notice Paper in the name of the Hon. Robert Lawson but has lapsed, so this has been reinstated.

Currently, drivers' licences include information such as name and address (which must be updated within 14 days if those details change), a photograph, and whether the person has chosen to be an organ donor. The proposed measures will not require complex systems changes or technological changes and are relatively simple and commonsense. I turn first to the contact details. The proposal is that the name and telephone number of a family member or friend or chosen person be placed on the back of the licence. In the unfortunate situation of an accident occurring, the authorities can then notify this person more quickly, so reducing the time that it takes to notify, reducing the use of police resources to trace next of kin, and improving the accuracy of choice of victims' next of kin due to their having nominated them.

A family member or friend then has the opportunity to be informed of the situation earlier and can attend a hospital or medical facility more promptly. I would like to reiterate that it is not compulsory: it is a voluntary option which people can choose to take up. Secondly, in relation to blood type details, again this is optional and it is particularly important for people who have a rare blood type. In cases of a large number of people being involved in an accident, particularly in regional areas, hospitals will be able to be notified earlier about large quantities of blood being required—and in emergency situations obviously time is critically important. Hospitals would still be required to check the blood type prior to administering it and, particularly in the situation of a remote area, it will allow time to organise large quantities of blood to be flown to that particular site.

According to the Red Cross Blood Service, a successful blood transfusion is dependent upon the compatibility of the blood type of the donor with that of the recipient. Incompatible transfusion results in the destruction of red blood cells, and not all blood types, as most people would be aware, are compatible. The best result is always obtained from the identical blood type, and this is particularly important for those people who have a rare blood type. In terms of the logistics of implementing this measure, it can be done on the issuing of a new licence or the renewing of an old licence. Details can be placed on the licence at other times as well, and there will be no fee for the service. There is already the capacity under the heading `Conditions' to have other information such as corrective lenses or the eligibility of driving certain types of vehicles put on the back of a licence.

However, I am informed that Transport SA does not have the authority to include this information and, if this bill is passed, it will instruct the government to institute a system that allows the above information to be written on the back of licences. If the emergency contact details change, they can be amended in the same way as a licence holder's change of residential address is currently amended, that is, by visiting a Transport SA branch and having a sticker with the new details placed on the back of their licence. I commend the bill to the chamber.

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