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Licensing requirements keep senior drivers safer

Victor Lewin - Saturday, October 10, 2015

There is no doubt that having the ability to continue driving well into the golden years can help senior citizens maintain their independence longer. Simply being able to drive oneself to daily activities and doctors' appointments can allow an elderly person to remain living on their own in the community.

However, the pluses of increased mobility in senior citizens must be balanced by the reality that with age comes a decrease in some of the very abilities that allow a person to remain safe behind the wheel.

Different provinces address the matter in various ways. Here in Nova Scotia, the requirements are quite strict for elderly drivers. For instance, the age at which the license must be renewed is lower than in any other province — 64. The frequency of renewal is much shorter as well, as driver's licenses for those 64 and up must be renewed annually, and a medical exam is required for each renewal.

These restrictions are not meant to be punitive, but to keep unsafe drivers off of the roads. Some of the driver's license requirements Canadian senior citizens can expect when renewing their licenses in Nova Scotia and elsewhere may include:

-- Medical exams

-- Passing written knowledge tests

-- Passing road tests

-- Passing vision tests

-- Taking group education courses

-- Having their driving record reviewed

-- Seeing their primary care physician for follow-up visits

-- Submitting additional medical information

Some senior citizens may still be able to drive, but with certain specific restrictions in place. These could be as minor as requiring them to wear glasses when behind the wheel or as restrictive as limiting their driving time to the daylight hours.

If their vision declines rapidly, or if it becomes apparent that they are experiencing cognitive impairment, they may have to surrender their drivers' licenses.

If you were injured in an accident caused by a senior citizen, you may be able to pursue compensation through the Nova Scotia civil court system.

Source: A Place for Mom, "Driving Requirements for Seniors in Canada," Sep. 30, 2015

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