(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

Joseph Albert Brooks, 94-years-young pf Prince Rupert offers traditional prayers and smudging to the sick. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Heart of our City: Joseph Albert Brooks keeps smudging and praying for others

94-year-old Tsimshian elder just wants some help washing his floors

Land along Prince Rupert’s waterfront, PID 012-247-391, where residents say excessive industrial train noise is stemming from, has been found to be owned by the City of Prince Rupert and is not federal land like first presented, Prince Rupert Environmental Society stated on June 17. (Image: supplied by Land Title and Survey, Govt. of BC.)
Error found on land titles map may assist city with noise control enforcement of industry

Prince Rupert residents had been told there was no municipal jurisdiction to enforce noise bylaws

Department of Oceans and Fisheries has announced as of July 19 chinook salmon is not to be fished in certain areas in BC tidal waters until July. Spring chinook salmon are seen swimming. (Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish & Wildlife Service)
Chinook Salmon limits set to zero in some BC tidal waters

DFO implement restrictions to protect Chinook Salmon

Visitors to a pop-up temporary aquarium in Prince Rupert will have the chance to see marine ecology from July 21 to Aug. 15, like this viewer watching sea anemones at the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert pop-up aquarium will bring sea level to eye level in July

A permanent peak to reef ecology centre is in the planning stages by North Coast Ecology Society

Prince Rupert’s Ellen Wright and Graeme Dickens jam out during filming the two Ring System Studio concerts to be broadcast on television during June. (Photo: supplied, H. Cox)
Ring System Studio sounds on television

Two concerts by the Prince Rupert music school will be broadcast in June

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Most Read