Perhaps one of the most unsettling issues that our seniors face today is the possibility of losing their drivers licence under the provincial DriveAble program. This, along with long travel distances to testing centres, has resulted in a great deal of angst and misunderstanding of the DriveAble process. I would like to provide some clarity for those with concerns.
DriveAble is the name of a test developed through scientific research to assess a persons cognitive functioning for driving. It is applied not only to senior testing but also to anyone a doctor or police may have identified as a potential candidate.
The test consists of an in-office, computer touchscreen assessment of cognitive abilities essential for safe driving. Seniors report that the test is intimidating, unfair and inappropriate for a generation less familiar with technology.
For those in rural areas like our own, the test requires a long trip to a testing centre either in Nelson, Kelowna or, with permission from the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, a trip to take the test in Calgary.
Cognitive impairment is the number one medical issue associated with motor vehicle accidents. But the fact is that not more than two per cent of seniors will have to take the test. They will not receive a letter from the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles unless recommended by a doctor or the police.
We have listened to concerns expressed by our seniors and we are taking action, said Attorney General Shirley Bond, after reviewing thousands of interviews with B.C. seniors and recommendations from BC Liberal MLAs.
As a result, changes to the driver assessments will make the process easier on seniors. The government will no longer use DriveAble as the sole testing tool. The process will be expanded by enabling seniors to take a road test if they fail the initial assessment.
A new testing centre will be opened in Cranbrook by May 2012, Minister Bond announced, and other locations are being considered, making access to testing easier. Additional mobile testing units are being considered for use throughout the province as well.
Locally, we are starting to work with community leaders such as Dee Conklin, Mayor of Radium Hot Springs, on creative solutions for local seniors who have lost their licences. Ideas like creating a community car pooling program that would help seniors get around town are being discussed.
For more information, go to www.driveable.com.
BC Liberal Candidate nominee