Seniors Driving Safely
In British Columbia, at the age of 80, all seniors who have a driver’s licence will receive the driver’s medical exam form in the mail from the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles.
The instructions explain the reason for the exam and that if they want to continue to drive they must have a physical by their doctor. The senior needs to take the form to their doctor to have it filled out and sent in by the doctor.
If concerns are noted on the form, the senior will receive a letter if any further testing, such as a road test or specialist exam is needed, or if there is any change to their driver’s licence for example, if a restriction is added such as ‘corrective lenses are needed’ or if the driver’s licence is cancelled. If no further concerns are reported in the interim, there is no further testing until two years later when a medical exam form will be sent by mail.
If a road test is required, the letter will explain the process to book the test. It also includes information about the test and how to prepare for it. It explains that most people have three opportunities to pass the test. Contact ICBC to proceed with either taking the road test or surrendering the driver’s licence. It is the senior’s decision as to whether or not to continue to drive.
Seniors may ask why they have to take a road test when they have been driving for decades without an accident. Seniors have more experience with driving than younger drivers. Age does not make drivers unsafe. Many senior drivers are safe drivers, however, as we age, medical conditions that can affect driving, including chronic conditions are more common.
The reality is that as the body ages the vision, hearing, mobility and cognitive ability does decrease. Being asked to take the road test is a precaution and is to keep the senior safe. There are new rules of the road and sign changes such as HOV lanes, double left hand turning lanes, and one way streets.
Seniors may not be able to detect when they are having a problem driving. This is when a family member, caregiver or doctor can assist by making them aware so that they do not put themselves or others at risk. The likelihood of a senior taking medication is increased and could lead to a driving impairment. Night driving becomes more difficult with age as does driving in poor weather conditions.
Seniors who voluntary surrender their driver’s licence will be given a free British Columbia Identification Card with the senior’s picture on it. Seniors who have a Disabled Parking Permit can use it in any vehicle in which they are a passenger.
Some of the benefits of surrendering a driver’s licence include saving money on a vehicle. The cost of maintaining, insuring and keeping a vehicle fueled is increasing. Often the value of the vehicle if sold will pay for many trips by other modes of transportation.
For further information contact your local ICBC office or their website (www.icbc.com).
Article by, Sharen Marteny, CPCA, www.seniorsconsulting.net
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