VICTORIA - The provincial government is taking action in response to concerns raised by some seniors about the DriveABLE program, announced Shirley Bond, Minister of Justice and Attorney General.
The changes will ensure that British Columbians can do their driving assessments closer to home and will alleviate the potential anxiety some seniors are experiencing around doing an on-screen assessment.
The most important change means that a decision regarding a person's ability to continue driving will not be made solely from an in-office computer assessment. People who fail the computer assessment will be offered a DriveABLE road assessment. The results of the in-office assessment combined with the on-road evaluation and medical information will ensure license decisions are made in the fairest manner possible. The Province will pay for the cost of both assessments.
Of the 3.1 million B.C. drivers - 84,000 of whom are over the age of 80 - only about 1,500 are referred to take the DriveABLE assessment. People are referred to the superintendent by physicians when they have been identified as having cognitive issues that may hamper their ability to drive safely.
The Province has responded to seniors concerns, and is taking other steps to consistency and improved client service. In addition to expanding the DriveABLE to provide an on-road assessment for those who fail the in-office computer assessment, the Province will make the following changes:
- The service delivery model will be improved as quickly as possible by reducing the amount of travel for rural B.C. The service will be offered as close to home as possible by allowing more people to benefit from DriveABLE's regional expansion and additional mobile services.
- Public awareness and an education program will be expanded to:
- Connect with seniors beginning at an earlier age;
- Connect with seniors organizations and families; and,
- Partner with medical professionals and physician groups to develop materials for seniors that helps explain age-related driving issues and medical fitness requirements for drivers over the age of 80, and information about planning for driving retirement.
Research is constantly underway and, in fact, DriveABLE is in the process of being peer reviewed. The government will continue to evaluate the model based on this research, and will continue to look for opportunities to be a leader in enhancing the length of time a senior can drive.
DriveABLE is currently available at 17 centres throughout the province, up from three in 2005. A new centre will open in Cranbrook by early May 2012. Other locations are being considered in addition to the mobile services.
Shirley Bond, Minister of Justice and Attorney General-
"We have listened to the concerns expressed by seniors and we are taking action. For several months I have had our staff looking at the geographic issues and the need for a more effective model for rural communities. Our goal is to keep drivers on the road as long as it's safe to do so, and my staff will continue to look for ways to improve this program. By offering the DriveABLE on-road assessment in addition to the in-office computer assessment, and by also taking into account the medical referral, the superintendent will be able to make the most informed decision possible around driver fitness."
"With our growing seniors population, it is critical that we continue to ensure our streets are safe, while giving seniors the confidence that decisions on their ability to drive is done in the most respectful and thorough manner."
- Ninety-five per cent of clients are referred to DriveABLE by the superintendent following an assessment by their doctor or other medical professional that indicates cognitive impairments may make driving unsafe.
- The DriveABLE on-road assessment is conducted on special road courses designed to evaluate and reveal driving errors associated with cognitive decline.
- Minor handling errors or bad habits are not part of the on-road scoring. Only errors related to cognitive ability are scored.
- Ontario and Alberta both use the DriveABLE test, and it is user-pay in those provinces.
Ministry of Justice and Attorney General