Last updated Feb. 12, 2018.
Ontario recently overhauled its process for senior citizen driver’s licence renewals. The old policy required seniors to only complete a written test. Now, all Ontarians age 80 and older must undergo a mandatory in-class screening process to determine driving eligibility.
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 licence.
- approximately 40,000 seniors who have memory and cognitive problems and difficulty with problem solving still have a driver’s licence.
- about 20,000 senior citizen drivers with some form of dementia still have a licence.
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.
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Rules Before an Ontario Senior Driving Test
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 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.
Senior Citizen Drivers’ Licence Renewal Process
The Ministry of Transportation (MOT) requires that seniors follow a four-step process to renew their driver’s licence.
- The first part in the process is receiving a letter in the mail from the MOT. Drivers ages 80 and older will receive the letter approximately 90 days before the licence expires. The letter will provide the steps the senior is required to take in order to renew his/her licence.
- The next step is to call the number provided on your letter and book an appointment for a renewal session.
- You will then need to attend the renewal session, which should last roughly 90 minutes.
- Lastly, if you pass the test, you will then need to go to a ServiceOntario centre to get your new driver’s licence. When you visit the centre, you’ll need to bring your test results and an ID.
At the renewal session, you’ll be required to do the following.
- Take a vision test wearing any current prescription eyeglasses you have for driving. The Ministry will use a screen reader to test your vision.
- Take a 45-minute group education session. You’ll learn about new traffic laws and the effect of aging on driving, as well as receive helpful tips for older drivers.
- You’ll then take a 10-minute screening exercise consisting of the two aforementioned assessments.
- For the last part of the renewal session, you’ll need to undergo a review of your driving record.
After the session, you may or may not have to pass a road test. You will only be required to take one if you have demerit points on your driving record, or if you had difficulty understanding the written assessment of group session.
Also, if you don’t pass the vision portion of the session, you will be given a form to take to your eye doctor. You will then take another vision test at your doctor’s office, update your corrective lenses as necessary, and then take the results to a Driver Improvement Counsellor.
Helpful Resources for Ontario Senior Drivers
The Ministry of Transportation offers several helpful resources for seniors preparing for the renewal process. You can obtain the following materials by visiting the Ministry’s website or by calling your local centre.
- A practice screening exercise
- Aging and Driving: Ontario’s Licence Renewal Program for Drivers Age 80 and Above booklet
- The Official MTO Driver’s Handbook
- Seniors’ Guide to Transportation
When seniors are unable to renew their licences as a result of age-related changes in their driving abilities there are other alternatives, including public transportation, taxis, 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.
Should you ever be involved in an accident, or if your loved one was seriously injured or killed in a traffic accident, you can call Preszler Law in Ontario for a free consultation. Contact us at 1-800-JUSTICE® today.