Seniors can be referred for testing after a doctor or police report on their mental fitness. (Canadian Association of Retired Persons)

B.C. seniors to get new driving assessment

Road test replacing DriveABLE computer starting in March

Starting next spring, at-risk seniors and other people with health problems will have a new system for determining if they are still allowed to drive.

The new system will be an extended road test, using the driver’s own vehicle, with an ICBC driver examiner directing a series of driving tasks with increasing complexity.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced the new system Thursday, to replace the touch-screen computer test called DriveABLE that many seniors found complicated and stressful.

The new examination will take longer, 90 minutes instead of 75, to test for cognitive impairment and other medical concerns. It will include a break in the middle where the tester will provide feedback about driving performance.

What the province calls “enhanced road assessment” can be required due to a doctor’s report of a medical condition, a police report of an accident or reports of a previous on-road assessment.

“The vast majority of B.C. seniors successfully pass the driver’s medical exam,” said Isobel Mackenzie, B.C.’s Seniors Advocate. “For those very few who are referred for further testing, the changes being implemented by RoadSafetyBC represent a major improvement from the past system and will make the process much less stressful for those seniors required to undertake the test.”

RoadSafetyBC evaluated the driving fitness of 170,000 people in 2016, and 3,000 of them were referred for an ICBC reassessment. Of those, 1,000 completed the DriveABLE test.

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