(File photo)

(File photo)

B.C. senior calls driving exams for seniors aged 80 and up ‘unfair’

Protest being planned for when COVID-19 pandemic restrictions lifted

A Qualicum Beach resident believes B.C. exams for drivers aged 80 and up to be unfair.

With Parksville Qualicum Beach having one of the oldest demographics in Canada, Judy Southern, who has been involved with the Qualicum Beach Senior’s Activities Centre for nearly 20 years, said she has heard seniors discuss the “unfairness” of the exams.

“One must arrange an appointment with a doctor… if they have a doctor and then pay for it,” said Southern. “Doctors charge, at their discretion. If one is lucky the doctor knows you well and may not feel that you need a follow-up cognitive test or road test.”

RoadSafetyBC, the B.C. government’s agency responsible for road safety, mandates persons 80 and above to renew their driver’s licence every two years. They are required to get a medical examination report to be completed by their physicians.

The medical report includes checks for cognition, eyesight and overall physical health. Medical Services Plan does not cover the cost of the exam which varies anywhere from $50 and up depending on the physician.

RELATED: B.C. takes new approach to testing older drivers

Those that fail the medical exams, however, may end up having to take the Enhanced Road Assessment to determine whether they are fit to drive. It is free of charge but it takes a 90 minutes to complete and includes a pre-trip vehicle orientation, a 45-minute on-road drive and a post-trip review.

RoadSafetyBC indicated a driver cannot pass or fail an enhanced road assessment. It’s just a process to determine the person’s fitness and ability to drive.

Southern understands that as people age, some cognitive abilities change. She also agrees that all provinces do require a review of a senior’s driving. However, she claimed that British Columbia has the “least humane” and “most expensive” system of any province.

“The road test for seniors is twice as lengthy as for any other age group,” said Southern. “Some seniors who have never had problems driving suffer extreme anxiety at the process – and, sadly, failure is pretty much guaranteed.”

Jason Watson, communications manager for the Public Safety and Solicitor General Communications Office, indicated that RoadSafetyBC’s goal is to allow people to drive for as long as they safely can.

“The primary tool we use to assess driver fitness is the Driver’s Medical Examination Report, which a physician completes,” he said. “Doctors charge a fee for this exam, and they’re entitled to set the amount, which can vary – but Doctors of BC recommends that physicians reduce or waive the fee for patients who are experiencing economic hardship. This has been the approach in British Columbia for at least a decade.”

Watson pointed out not all medical information received from the DMER leads to road testing or further action by the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles.

RoadSafetyBC sends about 70,000 examination reports to drivers 80 and over and statistics every year and data shows that 98 per cent keep their driving privileges.

Parksville resident Dennis Belliveau had a business he sold recently that required him to drive to various locations on Vancouver Island. He is 84 and has had to deal with the RoadSafetyBC mandate. But he doesn’t have any problems with the RoadSafetyBC requirements.

“I’ve have not encountered any challenges at all,” said Belliveau. “The first step of that process is a medical and I have gone through that on both ocassions and had no problems with that. I get a few questions from my doctor. I drive a lot of miles so I have to be very careful. I do 50,000 kilometres a year.”

Belliveau said he reads the ICBC guidelines and driving instruction books to keep himself updated with the latest requirements. He advises other seniors to do it as well.

“I want to make sure I am up to speed on all aspects and the reason I pay attention to my driver’s licence, my business depends on me to have a valid licence,” said Belliveau. “If I don’t have one, my business is dead. I can’t go out. So I can’t afford to lose my driver’s licence at least up until a couple of weeks before I sold the company.”

Belliveau acknowledged there may be some seniors who find the current process difficult. But at this time, he said, he’s had no issues.

Southern wants to collect feedback from the public to help raise this matter with the government.

“You might not be 80 years old right now but someday you will be,” said Southern.

She said there is a plan afoot to gather people on the steps of the Parliament Buildings in Victoria to protest the unfairness to seniors once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

“I replied that I was certain we could add substantial numbers from the (Parksville Qualicum Beach) area,” said Southern.

Feedback or concerns can be emailed to Southern at jnsouthern@shaw.ca.

Currently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Watson said, RoadSafetyBC temporarily stopped issuing routine age-based DMERs on Dec. 16.

“We want to support the ability of medical practitioners to respond to priority medical cases affecting seniors and other during this difficult time.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Drivingqualicum beachSeniors

Just Posted

A Milbert’s tortoiseshell rests on a flower. Nature Chilliwack says butterfly gardens for every stage of life are possible using plants native to the area. (Photo/Nature Chilliwack)
Nature Chilliwack offers butterfly garden tips

Gardens can be created using local plants, the nature club says

(Photo/Mary-Jean Coyle)
Community Camera for June 11, 2021

Submit your photos to news@ahobserver.com

Jacqueline Pearce and Jean-Pierre Antonio received the BC Historical Federation Best Article Award on Saturday for their story about translating haiku written in the Tashme internment camp.
Article chronicling haiku in Japanese internment camp near Hope wins award

Tashme Haiku Club’s work was preserved and recently translated, authors write

(Adam Louis/Observer)
PHOTOS: Students leap into action in track events at Kent Elementary

At Kent Elementary, when the sun’s outside, the fun’s outside. The intermediate… Continue reading

Kindergarten kids from Evans elementary school in Chilliwack painted rocks with orange hearts and delivered them to Sto:lo Elders Lodge recently after learning about residential schools. (Laura Bridge photo)
Kindergarten class paints rocks with orange hearts in Chilliwack for local elders

‘Compassion and empathy’ being shown by kids learning about residential schools

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

Most Read