Study looks at handling of senior drivers across Canada

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WATERLOO, Ont. — A new study has highlighted inconsistencies in how provinces licence older drivers, a contentious issue in the trucking industry – especially in Ontario, where commercial drivers are required to do an annual road test after reaching the age of 65.

The study, conducted by researchers Anita Myers from the University of Waterloo, Brenda Vrkljan of McMaster University and Shawn Marshall of the University of Ottawa, found that requirements for licence renewal, reporting practices and appeals processes as well as options for restricted licences largely depend on where someone lives.

The study was funded by the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation and Transport Canada, and revealed a patchwork of regulations and requirements across Canada.

Incidentally, 2011 marks the year Canadian baby boomer begin turning 65. Transport Canada data indicates that in 2009 there were 3.25 million Canadian licensed drivers 65 and older, equaling 14% of the total driving population. The study indicated the volume of senior drivers will more than double in the next decade.

“This has huge implications for transportation planners, licensing authorities, health professionals and taxpayers,” said Myers, a professor of health studies and gerontology at Waterloo. “While older drivers are involved in proportionately fewer collisions than younger drivers, they are more likely to be seriously injured or die as a result. The rate of fatal collisions starts to rise at age 70 and continues to increase for drivers in their 80s and 90s.”

The researchers found that mass screening of older drivers is costly and has a minimal impact on fatalities. Instead, they recommend assessing each person’s individual capabilities for continued safe driving.

The study also found most senior drivers would prefer to have restricted licences rather than losing driving privileges altogether.

The study has resulted in the creation of a Web site that highlights current practices for managing medically at-risk and older drivers.

“The public has a right to know what is being done in various parts of the country, while policy makers need these data to make informed decisions based on best practices,” said Kent Bassett-Spiers, CEO of the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation. “This research is the first step in unifying policies and setting strategic priorities.”

For more info on the project, visit

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  • If we think there’s a shortage of good drivers now, wait until the ‘baby boomers’ start leaving in the next few years. Most are financially capable to leave and most, like myself, are reluctant to do a completely unnecesary and expensive complete driving test, including a medical, every year after we turn 65. This is a government mandate that discriminates against drivers as age 65 is the only determination for this unnecesary political bureaucracy. And the ones leaving are the experienced drivers, being replaced with younger, inexperienced drivers. What do you suppose this could do the the current safety record in Ontario?