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Steve Wallace: Why should senior drivers pay for mandatory test?



More environmentally friendly reflective paint used to separate lanes must be refreshed frequently because it is more prone to fading, writes Steve Wallace.


A few musings from the mailbag: Heather wants to know why there is such variation in the fees charged by doctors for the physical and cognitive exam senior drivers in B.C. must take at age 80.

She cites rates ranging from $75 to slightly over $200 and everything in between.

Doctors are permitted to charge within a rate range recommended by the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Some doctors want to give seniors on fixed income a financial break, while others, bound by clinic policy, are unable to do that.

All sorts of other factors can influence the rate, but suffice to say that the whole system is worthy of sober second thought by government.

It is unfair to demand such a fee, which most likely would not meet the test of legality if it was ever submitted to a Supreme Court charter challenge. Such a challenge would be extremely costly to any petitioner.

Currently, seniors get a letter when they’re 80 demanding their attendance at a doctor’s office to determine their fitness to drive. This is mandatory, regardless of driving history.

When the government makes such a demand, the government should be footing the bill. Seniors should not be forced to absorb this cost, regardless of the amount. This cost is being heaped upon those born during the Great Depression of the 1930s and Second World War vets.

This cost is being heaped upon those born during the Great Depression of the 1930s and Second World War vets. It is being charged to the people who suffered the greatest financial catastrophe of the last century and those who volunteered to defend our country in wartime. How embarrassing and shameful.

The fact that 5,000 seniors haven’t turned up on the steps of the provincial legislature to protest this unfair treatment is a mystery to me. Why not retest everyone with several blamable crashes and traffic violations?

Hugh says the reflective paint used to separate lanes and other functions has been looking dimmer because of environmental restrictions placed on local governments and the provinces. He is correct. Refreshing of the lines to ensure the paint is reflective is a must.

The new environmentally friendly paint ages much more quickly. He also had an explanation for the dim light streets in his neighbourhood. Many municipalities are replacing sodium vapour bulbs with LEDs, with the result that the intensity of lights shining on the roadway seems to have been reduced.

Couple this situation with the less-reflective paint and commuters seem to be less well served by these well-intentioned measures. Marie copied me with a letter she sent to the Transportation Minister.

She is asking for the backs of school zone signs to be painted, to match the front colour. That will make where the zone ends much more obvious. She wants days and times of enforcement to be posted on every such sign.

William has a suggestion for those of us who park our vehicles outdoors. Rodents are often drawn to the under-hood warmth of a recently parked vehicle, and can be destructive. He recommends moth balls to deter these unwelcome guests. Fabric-softener sheets can be equally effective.

Rodents chewed through William’s gas injector cable, and he thinks the switch from an oil-based cable to a plant-based option might be the source of the problem.

Don had two good driving-safety suggestions. If you’re blinded by the lights of oncoming vehicles, look to the right-side lane pavement or road markers to get your bearings. Also, when the road seems wet at near-zero temperatures, look to see if there is any spray coming from the back tires of the vehicle ahead. No spray might mean a frozen surface.

Steve Wallace is the owner of Joan Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island. He is a former V.P. of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a U of Manitoba graduate.





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