Senior citizens driving a car can be an issue.

Senior citizens driving a car can be an issue.

Survey raises concern about senior drivers

Kelowna - A new survey is out seeking to understand the opinions and driving habits of Canadians

As more and more of the population are entering their golden years, there’s a growing concern about driver fitness past the age of retirement.

A new survey seeking to understand the opinions and driving habits of Canadians reveals that 25 per cent of drivers surveyed intend to keep their driver’s licence past age 85, but one in 10 respondents claim they’ve been in a car accident with a senior citizen.

“In my experience, drivers over the age of 65 are typically no more likely to be involved in an accident than anyone else,” said Karen Edge, insurance manager at Valley First Insurance Services.

“Besides,” she added, “there are safeguards in place for getting compromised drivers off the road.”

The main precaution is the Driver Medical Examination Report (DMER) to assess medical conditions that may affect driver fitness, which is completed by your primary care physician and submitted to RoadSafetyBC. These are mandatory and must be filled out by a driver’s primary care physician starting at age 80 and every two years thereafter.

The issue that arises, however, is when older adults experience health issues before these DMER checks start.

“If they haven’t yet reached age 80, the responsibility falls to family members and primary care physicians to raise these issues with the driver in question or report drivers impaired by cognitive or medial conditions,” said Edge.

It goes without saying that this conversation about a driver’s cognitive impairment can be a very difficult one to have.

“It’s a tremendous loss of independence for drivers of all ages when you don’t have the freedom to get behind the wheel and go where you want, when you want,” she says.

“I advise exercising great care and compassion when having conversations about when and under what circumstances elderly family members should stop driving,” she said.

Regardless of your age, she recommends reviewing your insurance coverage with a licensed professional to ensure you are maximizing any potential discounts you qualify for and have adequate insurance in place to meet your current needs.