Senior stuck in Boswell after losing driver’s licence to DriveAble

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To the Editor:

Since I got involved in the new driver’s licence testing, starting with the memory tests in the doctor’s office in October 2012, and the DriveAble screen test and the road test in Nelson, I repeatedly heard that the tests have nothing to do with the doctor; however, the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles states that “the majority of referrals (98 per cent) are from doctors.” Of course, the individual doctor does not make the rules, but at the same time some doctors make an effort to get the best deal for the patient, and there are also doctors who work strictly by the book, regardless of the results for the patient.

Meantime, the final outcome for all my efforts and stress and about $500 in various fees and costs connected with the testing, was a letter from OSMV telling me that effective immediately it is unsafe for me to drive, and I was ordered to return my driver’s licence by Jan. 25, 2013 — which I did. My little homestead is 45 kilometres north of Creston and there is no public transportation, so I now live more or less like under house arrest. The OSMV did offer to review their decision if I submit another cognitive test. This was done, and results are expected in two months from the date their office receives the submission.

The politicians and others who approved the DriveAble tests are forcing on seniors the most complicated and demanding standards of the entire driving population — and for what? Before DriveAble appeared, elders simply quit driving when they were not able to continue, and this was decided in the family, without the help of doctors, politicians and professors, and the roads were as safe then as they will ever be. But the government is pressing forward with the DriveAble, as if there were an emergency in B.C., with seniors veering and lurching down the highways and byways.

However, according to Powell River MLA Nicholas Simons, the Sunshine Coast Opposition critic for Community Living BC, things are not nearly as bad. He says, “Seniors are very safe drivers. Many drive with extra care, and limit themselves to driving in good conditions — and even then, only when necessary. Seniors are not involved in disproportionate numbers of collisions. … Seniors should have the right to be assessed in their own community, they should only be tested using familiar technology and any on-road driving tests should be in a familiar vehicle on familiar roads.”

The original decision to bring DriveAble from Alberta was not about road safety; it was a decision concerning former premier Gordon Campbell, and the marketing department of DriveAble company. The premier, as you remember, had badly tarnished his image by his drunken driving in Hawaii, so to improve his image he made some innovative moves, and DriveAble was one of them, even though we had in place throughout the province the ICBC testing. That was in 2005. But why keep the costly parallel system of testing now when all areas of public spending are being severely reduced, and Campbell is gone?

Also, the special needs of older drivers could have been met within the framework of the ICBC testing, carried out on familiar grounds, at a fraction of the cost, and with due respect and consideration for seniors. When you think how old people are forced to do these tests, you can be sure there is something seriously wrong with DriveAble, and you can be also sure that any society that approves such and similar mistreatment of seniors, is a society that has lost its bearings.

Anton Skerbinc

Boswell

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