Older drivers facing new licence test

Charges are coming on April 21 to the driving test that Ontarians must take after turning 80.

Under the current program, octogenarians must, every two years:

* Take a vision test

* Undergo a driver record review

* Attend a group education session

* Take a knowledge test

* And, if necessary, take a road test.

The biggest change coning is the replacement of the knowledge test with two in-class screening assignments. The assignments, which can be found on the Ontario Ministry of Transportation website, require drivers to draw the hands of a clock at 11:10, and to cross out each “H” from rows of letters.

The assignment is designed to evaluate basic language skills, memory, motor functioning and planning ability.

According to the ministry, the new process is a better and less stressful way to effectively identify senior drivers who may no longer be safely able to drive.

Seniors who want to renew their licence will no longer need to study for a knowledge test. That, combined with a shortened group education session, will reduce the process to about 90 minutes from the current three and one-half hours.

Existing and valid licenses will be not revoked, but all the requirements need to be met before the licence of a driver 80-and-over is renewed.

Drivers over 70 are second in percentage of crashes only teenage boys, and the seniors are more likely to die in those accidents, Statistic Canada says.

Doctors in Ontario are required to report patients they believe have diminished competence behind the wheel.