DriveAble testing is fair for everyone, says Ministry of Justice

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To the Editor:

I would like address Tilley Kaye’s concerns about B.C. physicians screening drivers for cognitive impairment and the DriveAble program (“Creston senior fighting to get back licence after failing DriveAble test”).

We understand it is upsetting to lose a licence and, let me assure you, the decision to remove a person’s driving privileges is never taken lightly. But we must balance fairness with the responsibility to ensure public safety for all road users.

Medical assessment tools and a physician’s driver medical examination play a key role in determining if someone is medically fit to drive. The Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles (OSMV) makes decisions based on medical information from doctors and other specialists.

We have worked with the province’s physician colleges to ensure doctors refer patients with possible cognitive impairment to the OSMV. Only people with suspected cognitive issues, who account for just two per cent of the medical examinations we review annually, are referred for a DriveAble assessment. The OSMV will always consider new medical information, such as an improvement in a medical condition, changes to prescription medications, or additional physician advice.

Last year, we enhanced the DriveAble program and included more supports. People now have 90 minutes to complete the in-office assessment and may bring a companion to meet the assessor, observe and provide support during the practice time, and ask questions.

Drivers who do not pass the in-office assessment now also have the opportunity to take the on-road evaluation. We also expanded the number of DriveAble locations throughout the province to 28. The combined results of the in-office assessment, on-road evaluation and the driver’s medical information allow us to make fair decisions about the driver’s ability to continue driving safely.

Without DriveAble we would be obligated to make driver fitness decisions based solely on a generalized medical diagnosis of cognitive decline, and we would be prohibiting more drivers than we do today.

Stephanie Melvin

Deputy Supt. of Motor Vehicles

Ministry of Justice

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