Change affects retests for senior drivers
By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, December 8th 2017
For the past decade or so, there have been two options for testing senior drivers in British Columbia.
One of the options for physician referral has been the DriveABLE program, and the second has been an ICBC re-exam.
As of March 1, 2018, there will be only one program remaining.
DriveABLE is being discontinued. This parallel program was administered by RoadSafe, more commonly known as the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles.
It involved an in-office computer cognitive assessment by an occupational therapist, and a second practical road test administered by a professionally trained driving instructor.
The results were later delivered in person to each candidate by the doctor who made the initial referral.
Candidates were not able to use their own vehicle and sometimes the tests were not in their resident city.
The total cost for the initial tests was covered by the superintendent and any subsequent appeals of the results were the responsibility of the candidate.
Many seniors complained of being computer-illiterate.
They did not like the in-office test. They wanted to be tested in their own vehicle, in their own town.
They did not want to pay for the subsequent appeal-generated process.
ICBC has done considerable reworking of its senior driving test procedures over the past few years.
Seniors have always been permitted to drive the vehicle of their choice, in their own city. The whole process is at no cost to the senior.
Compared with other provincial and state re-exam jurisdictions, ICBC should be applauded for this policy.
The in-office ICBC test consists of a vision test and a review of road signs and some notable rule changes.
The road test is a normal daily drive experienced by most every driver.
Seniors must be able to demonstrate their knowledge of the vehicle controls, such as the horn, lights, signals (both electric and hand), windows, wipers and the vehicle must be in good working order.
They leave a parking stall to begin the road test.
They must pull off and on the road a few times on the road test. There is a freeway merge and exit component.
This freeway section of the test is not mandatory.
If a person being retested does not want to drive on the freeway, they can accept a restriction on their licence of a speed no higher than 60 km/h and no freeway or highway privileges. Once the test is concluded, a pass or fail result will be rendered immediately.
Not every senior must do an ICBC road test.
All seniors will receive a letter telling them to attend at their doctor’s office, usually at the age of 80, or perhaps before, given there might be cognitive or physical concerns identified by the doctor at a preceding routine appointment.
Only upon the doctor’s recommendation will a mandatory practical driving test be requested.
The ICBC test can be avoided by giving the doctor good reason to believe a person is fit to drive. Doctors have a responsibility to test both physical and cognitive function.
Seniors should show up for any doctor’s appointment with a driver’s abstract from ICBC. It is free of charge and will be a recent five-year record of any traffic tickets issued.
The overwhelming majority will have proof of a perfectly clean driving record.
Seniors should also show their doctor the proof of a sizable discount recorded on their insurance document.
It is a good idea to get a written assessment of driving safety and skill from a provincially licensed driving school.
Seniors must become proactive and give the medical profession as much information as possible, allowing the profession to make informed decisions about a patient’s
physical and mental capacity to retain a driving privilege.