03/19/2012 03:23 EDT | Updated 05/19/2012 05:12 EDT

B.C. changes elderly driver testing

The B.C. government is making changes to the province's elderly driver testing after seniors raised concerns about access and testing methods.

Monday morning, Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond said these changes to the driver assessments should make the process easier on seniors.

Bond said access to the province's DriveABLE test will be expanded, and will allow seniors to take a road test if they fail the DriveABLE assessment.

"We are making changes that will ensure that seniors have the opportunity to actually have a road test, which I think is appropriate, and secondly that we're going to look for new and innovative ways to replicate the road test in smaller, rural and northern communities," said Bond.

Bond said the final decision on if an individual will keep their license will be based on a combination of the two tests as well as a doctor's evaluation, and the province will cover all costs.

DriveABLE testing to be available in Cranbrook, B.C.

In a statement released Monday, Bond said a new DriveABLE testing centre will open in Cranbrook by May 2012, and other locations are also being considered.

She also said the testing methods used by the DriveABLE program are undergoing peer-review.

But the NDP MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke, Norm Macdonald, said the government hasn't made any significant changes and has simply tweaked the program.

"It is still quite a distance they have to go before they can say to B.C. seniors they are being treated fairly," said Macdonald.

He said the DriveABLE test should be put aside if the government can't come up with a system that works better than the current one.

In 2010, the province made it so once drivers reach age 80, they are required to go through a driver fitness test every two years.

The test starts with their family doctor and a report sent to the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, which then decides if an elderly driver needs to undergo a DriveABLE test, a touch screen computer program that helps assess a driver's cognitive skills.