FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 26, 2013
CARP calls on Ontario Transport Minister to end outdated licensing protocols that unfairly target older drivers and introduce remedial driver training: open letter
Toronto, ON: CARP urges the Ontario Minister of Transportation, Glen Murray, to expedite work in modernizing how it treats older drivers by establishing new policies and protocols for driver training and safety that are based on assessing competence to drive safely rather than age. In a letter to Minister Murray, CARP calls for a focus on remedial driver training that is standardized, accredited and eventually mandatory for drivers of all ages.
Current regulations regarding older drivers are age-based, counter to evidence and principles of fairness and safety. Older drivers fear current regulations that can unfairly take away their licences – and with it their independence and well- being – on the basis of age rather than ability to drive safely. To eliminate such fears and unfairness, improvement programs and intervention regulations should aim to root out unsafe drivers of all ages, while promoting proactive training and assessment programs that encourage learning and fair, professional assessment of skills, regardless of age.
“In the absence of a credible and fair regime to assess safe driving ability, there will be well-meaning but misguided initiatives that target seniors unfairly. Older drivers often rely on their cars to live independently and better access to accredited remedial driver training is a better way to keep all drivers safe on the road than the threat of taking their licence away through unfair testing and presumptions about older drivers”, said Susan Eng, VP Advocacy for CARP.
The most recent egregious example is the proposal in Sudbury to encourage people to anonymously report older drivers to the police through Crime Stoppers. The initiative was targeted at family members who thought their parent or spouse should not be driving but did not want to personally confront them. Police would then have shown up at the home of the driver to assess the situation and recommend testing.
CARP publicly opposed the program and due to the ensuing backlash the police have since suspended it and their plans to roll it out across the province and apologized for the inappropriate response to an important issue. Everyone should be safe on the road, but like all drivers, older Canadians depend on their cars as a means of maintaining independence, social inclusion, and dignity, and especially in rural settings.
“The backlash reflects both the concern that police were being involved in what should be a family affair and that older drivers are already concerned about being unfairly targeted. There must be a better balance between the interests of keeping every safe on the road and not confiscating a person’s licence without due process and sensible options. Most older drivers self-regulate and give up driving in poor conditions and altogether, if necessary. If there were remedial driving training they could take instead of the all-or-nothing process now in place, they would”, added Eng.
CARP is calling for driver improvement programs and interventions that eliminate age-based discrimination of older drivers and pro-actively increase safety measures for all drivers. The following recommendations and examples can help shape new regulations for training, licensing, and intervention programs:
1) Assess safety regardless of age: Rather than assessing people when a certain age is reached, assessment should be done for all drivers as warranted, to ensure everyone’s safety.
• Although older adults can become frailer with age, physical and cognitive impairments and changes are not exclusive to older adults and assessment will help identify everyone at risk.
2) Assess the ability to drive:
• Assessment should solely test people’s driving skills rather than other unrelated skills, such as people’s ability to navigate computer-based programs and other technological interfaces.
• This means offering practical tests that take into account the particular challenges associated with certain conditions and ailments, such as diabetes and mobility limitations, regardless of age.
3) Encourage on-going and remedial training with adaptive supports, protocols and incentives:
• Everyone should be encouraged to improve their driving. Incentives can include insurance discounts, as is the case in a number of US states.
• Government should create incentives for safety training, such as diversion programs available in the US and UK where people have the option of taking driver improvement courses in lieu of points or other penalties for noncriminal traffic violations or other prosecution
The population of older drivers in Canada is increasing with the aging population. There were over 3 million people over 65 with driver’s licences in 2009. Two hundred thousand of these older drivers were aged 85 and over. Approximately 75% of older Canadians drive, according to Statistics Canada.
Media Coverage links:
AM 740: http://www.carp.ca/2013/02/21/susan-eng-talks-snitch-line-of-goldhawk-fights-back/
CARP is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to advocating for a New Vision of Aging for Canada, social change that will bring financial security, equitable access to health care and freedom from discrimination. CARP seeks to ensure that the marketplace serves the needs and expectations of our generation and provides value-added benefits, products and services to our members. Through our network of chapters across Canada, CARP is dedicated to building a sense of community and shared values among our members in support of CARP’s mission.
For further information, please contact:
Sarah Park 416.607.2471
Media Relations, Policy Researcher and Coordinator
Michael Nicin 416.607.2479
Director of Policy
Pam Maher 416.607.2475