In March the Province of British Columbia enacted new rules for drivers of eighty years of age or more. Those drivers must have a doctor’s note submitted every two years stating they are “medically competent” and must undertake an on-road test or road assessment if required. This is similar to the Province of Ontario which instituted a licence renewal every two years for drivers over eighty requiring a vision test, a driving rules class, a driving history review, potentially retaking a driver’s test and detailing medical history.
Price Tags Vancouver has previously written about the fact that seniors are being targeted as prime users of autonomous vehicles, with AVs touted as a way to keep seniors mobile. Data collected from Statistics Canada in 2009 suggest that close to 28 per cent of drivers over 65 years and older are driving vehicles with some form of dementia. Statistics Canada data from 2012 shows that over the age of 70 years seniors have a higher accident rate per kilometre than any other group except for young male motorists. Seniors are also more likely to die in a vehicular crash.
A poll conducted by State Farm in March 2017 found that “55 per cent of respondents would keep driving past 80 years of age. About 29 per cent would give up their license between ages 80-84, 16 per cent would stop driving before 90 years of age, while 10 per cent would keep driving after 90.”
The challenge is finding a balance between seniors’ mobility and road safety in British Columbia, and ensuring that seniors can continue to be independent. As an aging population there needs to be an increasing emphasis on the use of public transit, taxis and accessible services such as HandyDART and ride shares.
The magazine Driving.ca puts it bluntly: “If you’re 80 and over and facing this retesting every two years, how can you prepare? … do a walkaround on your car and honestly address any dings, scrapes and dents you don’t recall getting. Consider this quote from the American Automobile Association in the U.S.: ”Seniors are outliving their ability to drive safely by an average of 7 to 10 years.”