Crash victim’s son wants more driver testing

More frequent road tests could help reduce crashes, says Rob Heisler

A still-grieving man whose mom died after being struck in an Oak Bay crosswalk by an elderly driver wants B.C. drivers required to pass a road test every 10 years.

The existing law requiring people 80 and older to pass a medical exam every two years to prove they are healthy enough to drive should include an automatic road test, rather than requiring a doctor’s recommendation, Rob Heisler said.

Heisler’s 82-year-old mother, Johanna, died after being struck by a 78-year-old woman’s vehicle in a marked pedestrian crosswalk in September 2010.

Mandatory road tests for all drivers would weed out those who aren’t physically and mentally healthy enough to drive safely, Heisler said. Such tests could be paid for by ICBC, he added, with savings realized from fewer crashes and injuries.

Elderly drivers were thrust into the spotlight again after a Dec. 28 incident at Chaucer Avenue at Foul Bay Road. A 70-year-old man driving a mobility scooter was hit by a car driven by a 90-year-old Saanich woman. He later died in hospital. The case remains under investigation and as of Monday no charges had been laid.

Heisler suggested that cars driven by seniors could be marked with a large ‘S’ on the vehicle, similar to how learner and novice drivers must have a ‘L’ or ‘N’ posted on their vehicle.

The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles’ website indicates that its Driver Fitness Program is designed to find poor drivers and get them off the road.

The program “identifies and assesses drivers to determine that they are physically, cognitively and medically fit to drive,” regardless of a person’s age.

Such an assessment would follow “a reliable report of a potentially dangerous condition is received from a medical professional, police officer or concerned family member.”

The website goes on to state that while the physiological effects of aging tend to vary between individuals, the decision whether drivers age 80 or older are still capable of driving safely is left to their doctor.

Depending on the outcome of the medical examination, the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles office makes a “case-by-case determination” that could involve requesting the person to take another road test to evaluate their ability to drive safely.

Forcing seniors to pass road tests even after passing a medical examination would be a blessing for adult children worried about their own parents’ deteriorating driving skills, Heisler said.

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