As of April 2014, senior citizen drivers in Ontario must undergo an in-class screening process to determine their driving eligibility. This assessment, utilized specifically for seniors age 80 and older, serves as an alternative to the previous written tests once required when seniors renewed their license.
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The New Driving Rules for Senior Citizen Drivers in Ontario
When senior citizens go to renew their license, they will now be given an assessment that requires two written tasks.
- drawing a clock and then a specific time on the clock.
- crossing out all the letter “Hs” on a list of randomized letters.
This test is an attempt to identify seniors who might have developing cognitive deficiencies, which could compromise their driving abilities. Drivers will also have to pass a vision test, participate in a group education session, and have their driving record reviewed by the Ministry of Transportation.
Drivers will need to be reevaluated every two years. If a driver fails this new exam, he or she will be required to take a driving test.
Reasons for the Changes for Senior Citizen Drivers
“These changes will help seniors stay on the roads safely with a more streamlined renewal process, while also better flagging those who shouldn’t be driving,” said Ontario’s Minister of Transportation Glen Murray.
While some groups are claiming that the new senior testing procedures for driver’s licenses are discriminatory, the Government of Canada reports the following.
- roughly 14,000 seniors who had very limited sight still have a license.
- approximately 40,000 seniors who have memory and cognitive problems and difficulty with problem solving still have a driver’s license.
- about 20,000 senior citizen drivers with some form of dementia still have a license.
Adequate visual, cognitive, and auditory capabilities are required in order to operate a vehicle safely. The government hopes that the new exam requirements for seniors will help spot when a driver’s capabilities may be waning. “At 90 minutes, the test takes half the time of the old one and is a far better measure of a senior’s ability to handle a car,” explains The Globe and Mail.
Public Transportation Alternatives for Senior Citizen Drivers
When seniors are unable to renew their licenses as a result of age-related changes in their driving abilities there are other alternatives.
- public transportation.
- and community transit services.
These services enable the aging population to maintain independence and continue to participate in more remote activities when driving is no longer an option. They are crucial for the wellbeing of many elderly Canadians. “Elderly men seldom cited transportation problems as the reason for limited participation [in social activities]. For women aged 85 and over…transportation problems were the second most common reason after health problems for not participating in more social, recreational, or group activities,” according to the Government of Canada.
Call Preszler Law for Legal Help in Ontario
If you were recently involved in an accident with a senior citizen driver – or if you are a senior driver involved in a crash – call our team at Preszler Law in Ontario. Contact us at 1-800-JUSTICE® for a free, no-obligation consultation.