Seniors get another chance back at the wheel…

What effects will the changes of the DriveABLE BC processes have on seniors?

Dear Editor,

Changes in the DriveABLE BC processes have been implemented and directly address the concerns raised by seniors throughout the province about the DriveABLE in-office assessment.

DriveABLE is an assessment tool designed to provide the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles (OSMV) and is an accurate, safe way to determine if a suspected cognitive impairment is affecting an individual’s driving ability.

Medical practitioners provide 95 per cent of related reports to the Superintendent.

Typically, these doctors have already conducted an in-office cognitive screening.  Upon turning 80, and every two years after, drivers must go to their doctors and complete a Driver Medical Examination Report. This is part of a regular review to identify any possible driver fitness issues.  The Province pays the costs of DriveABLE assessments.

There are two components to the DriveABLE assessment. The first involves a touch-screen assessment, and it takes about an hour.  No knowledge of computers or how they work is needed. It’s a matter of touching a screen or button – no mouse is involved.

Trained healthcare professionals (like kinesiologists and occupational therapists) guide clients through the assessment. These professionals will make sure clients understand the task fully before they’re asked to complete it.  In fact, they walk you through practice sessions so that you can get comfortable with it. Those who pass the on-screen assessment, will retain their license.

New to the process and for drivers who did not pass the in-office assessment, they can now take a DriveABLE on-road evaluation conducted on a designated route in a dual-brake vehicle. The test is at no cost to the individual.

As reported by seniors in rural communities, travelling distances to testing centres were a major and expensive concern. For the Columbia Valley, I am pleased to report that DriveABLE assessments began in Cranbrook on Friday, April 27, making it the first permanent mobile location in BC.  Today there are currently 17 DriveABLE offices in BC compared to 3 in 2005.

The OSMV is in the process of reaching out to drivers who failed the in-office assessment in the six months prior to the assessment changes, to invite them to take an on-road evaluation. Letters started going out the week of April 16.

ICBC will provide these drivers with a 3-day temporary license before they take the on-road portion of the DriveABLE assessment. This allows drivers – who must be accompanied by a licensed adult driver – to familiarize themselves with being in the driver’s seat.

People who failed the in-office assessment more than six months ago must go to their doctor for another Driver’s Medical Examination.  The physician provides the Driver’s Medical Examination Report (DMER) to the Superintendent for review. If the DMER indicates an improved cognitive condition, they will be offered an on-road assessment.

The Superintendent will also consider new medical information, such as an improvement in a medical condition, changes to prescription medications, or additional physician advice.

Individuals may also write to the Superintendent to appeal a licensing decision.

I am proud of those seniors who took the time to let their government know how they felt about this issue and I am also proud of the BC Liberal government for hearing your voices and acting on them. We are working for you.

Doug Clovechok

Invermere