The British Government, through its DLVA, is considering a major overhaul in its licensing practices and procedures. This is what is being proposed:
Britian’s Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DLVA) will begin to administer a series of minimum physical and mental requirements, this includes eyesight performance (can they read a number plate from 67 feet away) and reaction times (cognitive tests measuring reaction times) to driver’s to assess whether they are fit to drive or not. These new tests will be expensive, costing the driver eighty pounds or $ 146.00 CDN dollars. This move is designed to identify tens of thousands of drivers, many of them seniors, who continue to drive while suffering from a number of conditions that could potentially make them a danger to others. This is the first change since the laws governing health requirements were implemented in the 1970’s. The current proposed changes are in anticipation of the aging population, which is expected to reach 3 million drivers over 70 years of age by 2021, driving on Britian’s roads. In 2006, the DVLA dealt with 600,000 drivers whose physical ability to drive had to be re-certified, a 20 per cent rise over the previous year.
The Association of British Insurers has reported that this age group (over 70) is three times more likely to be killed or seriously injured on the road, than those aged 40 to 65 years of age. Currently, drivers with the traditional paper licences are not obliged to confirm the state of their health until they reach the age of 70.
The DVLA is also considering issuing daylight driving licences for driver’s suffering from the medical condition “night blindness”; providing licences that are for a period shorter than the ten (10) year period. The Department of Transport wants to introduce the photocard licences, which will need to be renewed every ten (10) years. The Department of Transport hopes to introduce this new licence within a few years.
Let’s face it, the ability to driver one’s vehicle and possess a driver’s licence means mobility and independence for a senior. For alot of drivers. especially in the countryside where public transportation is scare or non-existent, the motor vehicle is the only way to get out of the home and go shopping or visit relatives and friends. For some drivers, especially seniors, a driver’s licence and the ability to drive one’s motor vehicle, is the difference between enjoying one’s life, participating and sharing to the fullest, in the golden years, versus the unhealthy reality of becoming a shut-in and recluse and experiencing lonliness and a sense of disconnect to the rest of the world.
Currently, Ontario is home to approximately 1.6 million seniors age 65 or older; 40% of Canada’s senior population. By the year 2028, Ontario will be home to 3.2 million people over the age of 65. Seniors face significant barriers because of ageism and age-based discrimination. There is an urgent need for action to eliminate ageism and age discrimination so that seniors can participate fully in our communities, enjoy the same rights afforded to others and can live their later years with dignity and respect. A positive approach to aging is needed, one that promotes the dignity and worth of older persons and ensures their independence, security, full-participation and self-fulfillment in society.
Ageism can give rise to individual acts of discrimination, but can also have a broader impact on policies, programs and legislation that affect large sectors of society. Barriers faced by seniors are often “socially constructed”, that is, they are not a direct result of the aging process but rather the result of society’s response to aging. It highlights that negative stereotypes and assumptions, failing to respond to the needs of older persons and, to design systems and structures that are inclusive of older persons are forms of ageism.
Physicians: The Ontario Highway Traffic Act Section 203 mandates that all physicians “shall report” any person suffering from a medical condition that “may make is dangerous for that person to operate a motor vehicle”
Optometrists: The Ontario Highway Traffic Act Section 204 mandates that every optometrist “shall report” any person who is “suffering from an eye condition that may make it dangerous to operate a motor vehicle”
Presently, in Ontario, the following policies exist, with respect to seniors:
70 and Over Collision Program: Drivers aged 70 and over involved in a collision and convicted of a collision related offence must take a vision, knowledge and road test.
Ontario’s licence renewal program for drivers aged 80 and over is the most stringent age-based program in Canada and one of the most stringent in North America
About 85,000 senior drivers undergo licence renewal each year.
Drivers age 80+ renew licences every two years
Renewal requirements include:
- Vision test
- Rules of the road knowledge test
- Driver record review and;
Road test, if necessary (i.e. demerit points/or poor performance at the group education session)
Group Education Session:
- Sessions delivered across province at no charge 90 minutes long; available in English and French
- Sessions have also been held in Chinese and Italian on an ad hoc basis in response to demand from community organizations
- Maximum of 15 participants scheduled
- Driver’s participating in session observed for signs of cognitive impairment
Here is the approach adopted by the government with respect to the following medical conditions of drivers Dementia, Epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.
Parking in the City of London.
Update: August 11, 2010 – What’s Toronto doing for its aging population?
Update: September 20, 2010 – Police concerned for elderly drivers’ safety