We are happy to publish a guest post written by Lisa Thompson. Lisa is a Senior Marketing Planner at the Road Safety Marketing Office in Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation.
Seniors are a rapidly growing segment of our Ontario driver population. That is why it is so important that we, as drivers, maintain our safe driving skills for the duration of our driving lives. The Ontario government realizes that for many seniors, maintaining their drivers licence allows them to stay mobile and independent longer.
With aging, however, comes change. As we become older, we can start to experience difficulties with our sight and our hearing. We might experience slower reaction times or diminished concentration, and become susceptible to cognitive dysfunction. As such, it is important that we are able to identify those warning signs, which could lead to unsafe driving, that put you or others at risk.
With that in mind, Ontario developed the senior driver licence renewal program for drivers aged 80 and over. The program identifies those drivers who may no longer be safe behind the wheel and requires that they undergo further testing or review before their licence can be renewed.
Ontario recently enhanced its driver’s licence renewal program for senior drivers. These enhancements are supported by the latest scientific research on cognitive impairment and their impact on safe driving.
As of April 21, 2014, senior drivers aged 80 and older will participate in a shorter, simpler renewal program that includes
- a vision test
- a driver record review
- an improved, in-class group education session
- two short, in-class screening exercises
As part of this new program, seniors will no longer have to complete a written knowledge test, and can now complete the entire process in about 90 minutes. It is important to note that this is a licence renewal program, so at no time will your existing and valid licence be revoked, but you will have to meet all the above requirements before your licence can be renewed.
The new screening exercises are simple, non-computerized tasks that help identify drivers who may need further assessment, such as a road test or medical review.
With the elimination of the written knowledge test, many seniors have indicated that they feel less anxious about their licence renewal. Some seniors felt that their ability to complete the written knowledge test was impaired by their nervousness, and that they may have failed the test, not for lack of knowledge, but because they were anxious about having to complete a written test.
Regular evaluations and assessments of the senior licence renewal program will be completed by the Ministry of Transportation to ensure it is working as intended, and improving safety on our roads. Ontario is the first jurisdiction in the world to introduce in-class screening exercises as part of routine driver’s licence renewal. Results of the enhanced program will be closely evaluated and changes will be made when necessary.
Ontario’s roads are among the safest in North America so it’s important that every road user makes road safety a personal responsibility.
Should you have questions about the new program, please call 1-800-396-4233 or GTA: 416-235-3579 or visit www.ontario.ca/seniordriver