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Troubling response by Minister of Transportation to question on DriveABLE

In an earlier post I explored the process that seniors must go through when a driver turns 80. As I noted, they are required to see their doctor for a Driver’s Medical Examination Report (DMER) every two years. If a doctor raises concerns related to cognitive issues that could interfere with driving abilities, the patient may be instructed to take the DriveABLE examination.

I cannot understand the purpose of the BC Government making seniors jump through the costly DriveABLE hoop when they can ultimately appeal a DriveABLE test failure and ask for an on-road evaluation. It makes no sense to me. It strikes me as for more sensible to just dump the DriveABLE screening and go straight to the on road test. The monies saved in this process could be used to eliminate the DMER cost to seniors.

Yesterday on the Voice of BC, I posed this question directly to Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation:

Question (A.Weaver): A number of seniors in my riding have contacted me over the DriveABLE program and the concerns they have and the stress that they go through when they have to take it. As you know, DriveABLE is a program that only some seniors have to take if directed to by their doctors. If one fails the DriveABLE test, you can still request a road test. It seems to me like this is an unnecessary process that actually wastes a lot of taxpayers’ money — $400 per test, in fact. Do you think we can actually eliminate the DriveABLE requirement in BC? And if not, why not?

Answer (T. Stone): Well look, I know that when the DriveABLE program was brought in it was not a decision taken lightly by government. There was a tremendous amount of concern and opposition expressed at that time. And it certainly is a question that gets posed to me from time to time. Fundamentally we have an obligation to make sure that all motorists are safe motorists. And if a doctor believes – Vaughn, the day will come for you and the day will come for me – that perhaps it’s time to go and be tested to ensure that you’ve got the response time and your eyesight is still good and so forth, I think that’s a good check and balance from a safety perspective, not just for that senior, but for all motorists. That’s a tough one. It’s often the last vestige of independence for people. Somebody losing their licence, that’s a difficult, difficult time for them. But we have to make sure that when you’re out there driving, you’re able to do so safely.

His answer is troubling as it implies that he doesn’t actually know what the DriveABLE test is, or when it is applied. His answer suggests that he is confusing DriveABLE with DMER.

The DMER is taken by all seniors over 80; DriveABLE is only used to examine cognitive skills for a select few. Eye testing is done under DMER not DriveABLE. And the computer based DriveABLE is confusing, stressful and difficult for some seniors who have not grown up in the video game generation.

I would have expected better from the Minister or Transportation. The issue of  driver safety is already covered by DMER and the existing option for an on-road evaluation. Based on his response, it is clear to me that costly taxpayer funded DriveABLE program needs to be dumped. I will continue to pressure government to do so.

4 Comments

  1. judith kemp-Reply
    November 6, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    Interesting to contemplate the lack of efficiency when the “CEO” of the said organization is not able to be articulate about its own policies. Also we all need to get up to speed with our terminology; The word “seniors” is not applicable to people in their 80’s. The 60 to 80’s age group is now referred to as Older Adults… . Perhaps Older Adults somehow acknowledges the roles older people fulfill to contribute to the wellbeing of our ccommunities.. Driving is crucial for this role.

  2. November 6, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    What SHOULD happen is a study to determine how WELL the cognitive skills test correlates with actual behind-the-wheel performance. We can’t play guessing games with our taxes, or peopl’s lives on the road.

  3. vicki bale-Reply
    November 6, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    DriveAble is NOT for the over 80 population. As you have mentioned above computers are extremely confusing of this age group and does not test anything. Losing ones licence is the most traumatic moment in anyone’s life. Please go on fighting to abolish DriveAble.
    Thank you for your work.

  4. Marty Menzies-Reply
    November 5, 2016 at 7:14 am

    Perhaps it’s time to replace DMER and DriveABLE with a new government there are enough of us seniors Under and Over 80 to do just that.

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