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Make dangerous driving, not age, a requirement for tests: instructor

03/31/2015 12:37 EDT | Updated 05/31/2015 05:59 EDT
A Vancouver driving instructor suggests drivers with poor records should be targeted for re-testing, rather than going after the elderly.

The B.C. government requires drivers who are 80 years old to take regular medical fitness exams to ensure they're fit to drive. If the test raises red flags about cognitive function, the driver has to take another test that could include an on-road evaluation.

The regulation has been criticized by the North Fraser chapter of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, which recently called on the province to scrap the rule because it believes it discriminates against seniors.

Kurtis Strelau, with Young Drivers of Canada in Vancouver, suggests that instead of singling out drivers based on their age, the province could focus on the drivers who have proven to be dangerous on the road.  

"We suspect that it would be better if we, instead of looking at chronological age, look at the people that are having at-fault crashes, look at the people who are racking up demerit points on their licence," he told B.C. Almanac's Gloria Macarenko.

"Those are the people that are the high-risk people. Those are the ones that should be re-tested virtually immediately."

Senior drivers aren't old and feeble: CARP

Bruce Bird, chair of the North Fraser chapter of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, says seniors are more active nowadays, and are no longer "old and feeble, sitting in a rocking chair waiting for infirmity to put them in a wheelchair and send them to an early grave."

Those who lose their licence face losing their independence, Bird said.

In an ideal world, Strelau says the driver training industry would like to see all drivers get re-tested every five years, though he contends that would probably be "political suicide" for any political party that suggests it.

B.C.'s Superintendent of Motor Vehicles has already said the province won't change its policy, as the requirement for 80-year-old drivers to have their medical fitness exams is consistent with most other Canadian and international jurisdictions. Plus, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has found the policy to be consistent with the province's road safety mandate.

To hear the full interview, listen to the audio labelled: Mandatory medical tests for senior drivers questioned

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