Tim Schewe

Drivesmart column: Do you know someone who should not be driving?

We are currently living about 10 years longer than our ability to drive safely.

By Tim Schewe

I often hear comments that a friend or family member should not be driving. This person is usually either an older driver or a person suffering from health issues known to the person making the comment. These people also express the wish that someone would do something about it.

According to RoadSafetyBC, the provincial agency responsible for driver fitness, we are currently living about 10 years longer than our ability to drive safely. That said, approximately 180,000 medical examinations were required in 2019. Of that number, only about 66,000 were seniors, so safe driving ability can be affected at any age.

Difficult as it may be, close friends and family members are often the best ones to do something about an unsafe driver. RoadSafetyBC will take reports from anyone with direct knowledge of the problem and who is willing to identify themselves so that the report can be properly verified. A letter or fax is the appropriate report and the address or fax number is available on RoadSafetyBC’s web site.

Without reports such as this it can be difficult to identify drivers who for whatever reason are no longer capable. Yes, the law does require that a doctor identify a patient that is no longer capable, but only if the doctor cautions the patient to stop driving and the patient does not do so.

Mandatory medical driver exams don’t occur until age 80 unless a problem has been identified. The criteria for these exams are set out in the CCMTA’s Medical Standards with BC Specific Guidelines.

Worried about what will happen if you make a report? I’m sure that it would be a difficult decision for anyone to turn in a friend or family member. I suppose it comes down to asking yourself if you can live with that, or can you live with knowing that the incapable driver has hurt themselves or others because you didn’t do something.

This decision may not be one that you can rely on “the system” to make for you.

On the other hand, one of my neighbours who was in her 80s met the situation head on. Her daughter had started to pressure her to stop driving so she made an appointment with a driving school and had the instructor assess her skills. The instructor was able to assure them both that it was safe for her to continue driving.

If you are on a budget, I see that the class 5 and 6 road tests are shown to be free to those aged 65 or older on ICBC’s web site. You may be able to book a road test to assess your skills with them.

One day we may see a Graduated Delicensing Program for those drivers whose abilities are no longer up to standard. Currently there are restrictions that may be placed on a driver’s licence that limit privileges. Examples of this may include speed limits, daylight hours only.

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

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