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Only 15% pass DriveABLE test

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Originally published in Victoria Times Colonist.
VANCOUVER — The government needs to do a better job of explaining a computerized driving test
for seniors suspected of cognitive impairment, Solicitor-General Shirley Bond said in an open
letter Tuesday.

The 45-minute TOUCH SCREEN EXAM called Driveable, has angered seniors who say it is unfair and an
inappropriate way to assess a generation less familiar with technology.

Earlier this month, more than 150 people filled a seniors’ centre in Powell River to voice
concerns about Driveable.

The test is not a driving skills exam but a test of cognitive functions like memory, attention
span and spatial reasoning that can decline with age.
“Government has the responsibility of balancing individuals’ desire to drive with the responsibility
to ensure the public safety of all British Columbians,” Bond said in the letter.
(It should be understood, that statistics indicate seniors are the safest drivers on the road)

“Driveable is one of the tools we use to help us make those decisions in a fair and reasonable way.”

The outreach plan includes a pair of YouTube videos, pamphlets and planned face-to-face meetings
with seniors’ groups.
Introduced in 2005, Driveable was expanded to the entire province in 2010.

During the test, drivers must react to scenarios — for example, will a jogger cross the street? —
on a moving screen by answering multiple-choice questions with the press of a button.

Victoria resident Geoff Barnard, 86, who is competent with computers, said he was completely
frazzled by the end of the test he took two years ago.

He didn’t outright fail but received an INCONCLUSIVE SCOREre requiring an ON-ROAD TESTt, which
HE PASSED. Of the seniors who take the computer test, 40% FAIL and another 45 % RECEIVE THE

ONLY 15 % PASS, the data from 2011 showed.

Barnard said the problem is that the compressed view on the computer screen does not provide
a realistic representation of driving situations.
He said if the province is going to test seniors using a computer, they should do it using a
full-sized simulator with a steering wheel, brakes and a gas pedal.

Barnard said he also knows of two seniors who failed the test but PASSED ON A SECOND TRY,
which does not make sense if it’s testing cognitive ability. PRACTICING SHOULD NOT MPROVE YOUR
SCORE, he noted.
Barnard said there is a lot at stake for seniors. “They say losing your driver’s licence takes
away your independence — you’re darn right it does,” said Barnard, who just bought a new car,
a 2010 Hyundai Elantra.

At age 80, every driver in B.C. is asked to complete a driver medical examination with their doctor.

Only those who have been identified as having cognitive issues are referred to take the Driveable
test, said Stephanie Melvin, deputy superintendent of motor vehicles.

Of the 130,000 people in B.C. who take a driver medical examination each year, 44,000 are over 80.
Of those, only about 1,500 are referred for Driveable assessments, she said.(BIG BUSINESS)

Melvin contended that without the Driveable assessment, the superintendent of motor vehicles would
have to base driver fitness decisions on a doctor’s medical diagnosis, which means more drivers
would lose their licences.

Victoria driving instructor Steve Wallace said he’s received numerous complaints from seniors about
the Driveable assessment.
However, he said he thinks the concerns can be resolved.

Allow seniors to become familiar with the touch-screen computer assessment before being tested, and
have ICBC administer road tests, not private instructors, he said.

Melvin said only DriveWise-certified instructors can test the drivers identified in the Driveable
assessment because they are testing for cognitive problems, not driving skills.

Adapted from Vancouver Sun