(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

An old growth cedar stands in a cut-block within the Caycuse Valley. More than 100 prominent Canadians, have signed an open letter calling for the immediate protection of all remaining old-growth forests in B.C. (Submitted)
Brian Mulroney and Greta Thunberg among 100 celebrities pushing to save B.C. old growth

List includes Indigenous leaders, scientists, authors, Oscar winners

Tim Wilkinson, who will attempt a double anvil triathlon on Vancouver Island on July 3, poses with his training partner, Shadow, who has been dragged up and down the Nanaimo Parkway many times. (Submitted)
Vancouver Island triathlete takes on ‘double anvil’ for charity

7.6km swim, 360km bike ride, and 84.4km run, all within 36 hours

From left: Thomas Kuecks, David Lane, John Ivison, Denis Berger, Rod Gray, and James Kuecks are Cabin Fever. Catch their performance on the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre website. (Ashley Foot photo)
A&E column: Music Festival winners, CVAC awards, and Cabin Fever

The latest from the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment community

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley MLA Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

BC Green Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

A section of the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is seen west of Cochrane, Alta., Thursday, June 17, 2021. A joint federal-provincial review has denied an application for an open-pit coal mine in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, saying its impacts on the environment and Indigenous rights aren’t worth the economic benefits it would bring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Panel says Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta Rockies not in public interest

Public hearings on the project in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass region were held last fall

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on Friday, February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
U.S. border restrictions to remain in place until at least July 21

Safety minister says Canada, U.S. extending restrictions on non-essential international travel

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

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Himalayan Life helped finance the construction of Nepal’s Yangri Academic Centre and dormitories after a 2015 earthquake devastated the valley, killing more than 9,000 people. (Screen grab/Peter Schaeublin)
B.C. charity founder pledges to rebuild Nepalese school swept away by flash floods

Six years after an earthquake killed more than 9,000 people, Nepal faces another catastrophy

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Most Read