A Qualicum Beach senior is criticizing B.C.’s driving system after having her licence revoked, despite her claims of a clean record and good reviews from her driving instructor.
“Losing my driver’s license has impinged on every aspect of my life,” said 82-year-old Thelma Eckland.
“It changed everything.”
Eckland said not having a license has affected her ability to work, attend regular fitness classes and volunteer with Hospice, among the myriad of other activities she said she has since forgone — and on top of that, she has to pay $12 for a taxi cab every time she goes to the grocery store.
Eckland said she has undergone two medical examinations since turning 80, both of which she passed. Eckland also claims to have a clean driving record, which is why she was so surprised when she received a letter from the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles (OSMV) last August.
“I got this letter completely out of the blue,” said Eckland. “It said I needed to book a road test.”
The road test turned out to be “one of the most nerve racking experiences” for Eckland, who failed three times which she addressed to anxiety.
“Your whole life depends on this bloody test,” said Eckland. “It’s an artificial situation because it’s so stressful.”
Eckland said she took driving lessons in preparation for the exam, where her instructor said her driving capabilities were “excellent.”
“I failed for minor technicalities like not shoulder checking enough,” said Eckland. “And at the end of the day it’s my word against theirs (ICBC staff) and I think that is unfair.”
ICBC allows senior drivers to take the road re examination test up to three times. Eckland said upon her third and final fail she “felt like dying.”
“It’s not so bad when you have a partner or husband to help you out,” she said. “But I don’t.”
Since having her license revoked, Eckland said she has been “homebound and frustrated.” While she has used some of the local services provided to people who lack mobility, Eckland said “nothing can replace a car or the ability to drive.”
Eckland said she plans to appeal the results.
“I just feel you should be judged on your current ability to drive and driving record, not on your age or the fact that you’ve been hospitalized or artificial tests,” said Eckland. “I’d give anything to have my license back.”
Superintendant of motor vehicles Sam MacLeod said guidelines to determine a person’s fitness to drive were designed by the OSMV in partnership with Doctors of B.C.
MacLeod said the guidelines serve “the safety of both the driver and the public.”
“It is imperative that we all do our part to reduce motor vehicle fatalities and serious injuries on B.C. roads,” said MacLeod. “We know that health problems tend to manifest themselves, or become more prevalent as we age.”