This week, I would like to highlight the DriveABLE program and clarify the recent changes the province has introduced to improve the program.
DriveABLE is a system of testing and evaluating the cognitive abilities required to drive.
As of 2010, drivers aged 80 or older are required to go through a driver fitness test every year, starting with a visit to a family doctor and a report sent to the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles. If there are concerns that the individual may lack the cognitive ability to drive safely, that driver must undergo a DriveABLE test, a touch-screen computer program that assesses these skills. Recently, some concerns about the program have become apparent. In particular, many seniors are unfamiliar with the touch-screen technology and sometimes have to travel considerable distances to reach a location with DriveABLE technology. As parliamentary secretary for rural communities to the minister of community, sport and cultural development, I heard those concerns loud and clear. The matters of new technology and long-distance travel were very much appreciated by myself and our government.
I’m happy to say that Minister Shirley Bond was receptive to the matters raised. In response to these concerns, the province is making changes to improve access and fairness for those required to take the DriveABLE assessment. Seniors who fail the computer assessment now have the opportunity to take an additional on-road evaluation. The results of the computer assessment, the on-road evaluation, and medical information will be combined to make a fair and informed decision about licensing the driver. The province will cover the costs of these tests. This alleviates the anxieties of those who feel they could lose their license as a result of an unfamiliar touch-screen assessment. The province will also expand access to DriveABLE programs in order to offer services as close to home as possible. A public education and awareness program will help seniors and families better understand the DriveABLE program. We have listened to the concerns of British Columbians and made changes to accommodate their best interests.
Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.