Licence taken from B.C. senior deemed fit to drive Driver’s complaint upheld by College of Physicians and Surgeons

“Most people in their 70s are not that computer savvy,” Ogilvie said. “And [the OMSV] refuses to just give you an actual road test.

Figures from the OSMV show 40 per cent of B.C. drivers referred to the DriveABLE test fail, which means they are not allowed to take a road test. In addition, another 45 per cent have inconclusive results; those drivers are then given a road test. Sixty per cent of people who get to that stage pass and retain their driver’s licence.

The Insurance Corporation of B.C. says seniors (age 70 and over) cause 95 out of every 1,000 accidents in B.C. The average crash rate for drivers of all ages is 124 out of every 1,000 accidents.

“Seniors actually have a relatively low crash rate. Some of the reasons for this may be that they don’t drive as much or during challenging road conditions,” said ICBC spokesman Adam Grossman.

“Maybe they should have a choice — one option or the other,” Ogilvie said. “Take a road test [safely] or take the computer test.”

College pans doctor

Dent said he has had some success arguing his case with B.C.’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. He complained about Dr. Weiss, the physician who reported him to the OSMV without assessing him. In February, the college found his complaint to be valid.

Weiss declined to speak to CBC News about the case, but the college called the doctor’s actions “precipitous, arbitrary and pre-emptive.”

“Our concerns were further compounded by Dr. Weiss’s intractability with his apparent disregard of opinions contrary to his own from experts in the area who are at least as competent as himself, and further given that his own conclusions were based, perhaps exclusively, on test and testers [the occupational therapist] less compelling than those contrary experts.”

“When we got the [college] letter, I just kept saying ‘Wow, they agree with us!,’ Ogilvie said. “Finally somebody sees. Somebody cares and sees this should not have happened.”

The B.C. Medical Association said drivers such as Dent might have more success appealing directly to the OSMV if the province reinstated staff doctor positions that have been cut.

“There’s a place for discussion of medical opinion,” said BCMA president Ian Gillespie.

He said there are no longer any doctors in that office to give medical discretion where mistakes may have been made.

“We’d like to see that in place again,” he said. “We think it’s really important. Especially because the reporting needs will go up with the demographics of the population.”

Gillespie also said B.C. does not have enough driver rehabilitation programs for stroke victims, who can recover lost cognitive abilities with therapy. He said patients at risk of losing their licence should be given an opportunity to improve.

“They may be able to drive again with that rehabilitation, but without it there is no way of measuring their progress,” Gillespie said.

Ogilvie said her husband had just two brief rehabilitation appointments, but the only result was he lost his driver’s licence.