We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

Driving rules unfair to both young and old

By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, February 24 2017

Elderly drivers are forced to take a memory test at age 80 that many younger people regularly fail, Steve Wallace writes.


Both the young and the elderly are subject to some very odd policies and regulations of the licensing authority in B.C.

Here are some examples.

Seniors with impeccable driving records are required to attend at a doctor’s office to prove their awareness, as it relates to the driving task.
One of the activities is a memory test.
Every driver at age 80 is subject to this process. Some believe this shotgun approach is blatant age discrimination.

Given the perfect driving record of certain seniors who are notified in such a fashion, I can only agree.
Of course, there are other seniors who for various reasons of cognitive or physical impairment will be ordered to take a practical road test when further observations confirm the necessity.

The memory test usually consists of 10 items, sometimes related or possibly unrelated.

If a senior is unable to recall seven of the 10 items after a few minutes’ time, a driving test is usually in the cards.

Now here is an activity worth trying. Get some people together and give them 10 unrelated items to remember.

Distract them for about five minutes and then ask them to recall the 10 items.

I took the test and got the bare minimum seven items.

I gave the test to a few of my driving instructor associates and half of them failed it.

Yes, they would all have to be retested under the current ridiculously simple memory test given to seniors at age 80.

Drivers should be retested based on poor performance as opposed to in-office paper-pushing principles.

The age of 19 is a very pivotal time for drivers and drinkers in B.C. The best of intentions are sometimes followed by the worst of results.
Take, for instance, the best driving course offered in North America. It is the Graduated Driving Course.

It allows a teen to get full unencumbered driving privileges six months before their 19th birthday.

Under normal circumstances, a driver at age 16 must hold a learner’s licence (L) for at least a year and then a new driver (N) designation for two years.
Most new drivers get a learner’s licence on or about their 16th birthday.

That means the legal driving privilege and the alcohol-consumption dates align for the vast majority of new drivers.

There are few more dangerous driving situations, where the stars align for a potential disaster.

Granted, many teens wait well past this pivotal time.
Others opt to enroll in the Graduated Licensing Approved Course and get a six-month reduction of the two-year N phase, along with two high school credits.

Sadly, only about 50 of the roughly 650 driving schools in B.C. offer this amazing course.
The value of the unencumbered driving and drinking age being separated by six months is well worth it.
Dropping the unnecessary “administrivia” by licensing authorities for qualification to teach such a course would be a great improvement to the GLC offering.

More driving schools should be teaching it.

The vast majority of student drivers never get over 50 kilometres per hour on a driving test.
The testing authority does not demand it.

Yet, after qualifying on an initial road test, it is legal for those same drivers to travel the 120-km/h highways of the province in winter conditions at night.

The highway drive is only done on the second road test, usually two years after the successful first road test to attain an N.
Every government monopoly is originally set up in an honest attempt to better serve the public.

Over time, it begins to serve itself.

It is long past time the relevant authorities addressed the inconsistencies I have noted, which negatively affect seniors, teens and the driving-school industry.



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