EDITORIAL: Happy trails to senior drivers

It does not require seniors to use a computer program

It’s a good idea to assess at some point whether a senior driver should still be on the road.

We don’t want to take away the independence that being able to drive represents to many, especially in a relatively rural area like the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, but road safety is important, too.

There are those who argue we should all have to take driving tests periodically throughout our lives to prove our driving fitness, rather than just the once, usually when we are teenagers.

So testing seniors’ ability to be safe behind the wheel is a good thing.

However, the DriveABLE system that was used until the beginning of 2018 to assess senior drivers had a number of built-in problems that made the whole thing unfair to many of the older folks who had to take it.

First, a portion of it was computerized. Sure, there are some seniors who are very computer-savvy and love their smart phone, tablet and laptop as much as any millennial.

But, tired stereotypes aside, many seniors are not computer-literate. They are from a generation that did not grow up with computers.

Consider, there wasn’t one in every town, let alone in every house and every hand. So sitting them down in front of a screen and asking them to navigate a computer test was a no-go from the start.

It was asking them to not only demonstrate driving skills, but also requiring them to develop computer literacy on the spot, in a pressure-packed scenario.

DriveABLE has now been replaced with the ERA, or Enhanced Road Assessment. This seems like a much more useful test of skill for seniors.

It does not require seniors to use a computer program, but rather concentrates on the on-the-road skills a senior can demonstrate, such as the ability to reverse a driving route, adjust and use vehicle controls, and follow multi-step directions.

Even if a driver doesn’t completely pass the ERA, their licence isn’t necessarily yanked immediately. All in all it seems like a much more friendly system.

– Black Press

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