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My Dad, 92, was asked to go for an actual road test to maintain his license. I drove with him and I feel he is still safe on the road. He has had no accidents and no tickets.
Any idea on what the test examiner looks for when testing a senior?
 

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My Dad, 92, was asked to go for an actual road test to maintain his license. I drove with him and I feel he is still safe on the road. He has had no accidents and no tickets.
Any idea on what the test examiner looks for when testing a senior?
Probably the same things they look for in any driver.
Maybe paying more attention to vision, checking blind spots, attention, etc.
 

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I'd say the biggest thing is mental competency. His skills are obviously good if you can drive with him without the hair standing up on your neck. People of that generation never did take a drivers test. You applied for a licence, and it was sent to you in the mail. (at least that's what my parents told me 1913/1915 vintage).

My inlaws are early 90's and they scare the hell out of me. I don't know why they both haven't died in a traffic accident by now. And that's not recent either. I haven't ridden in a car with them for almost 20 years. I drive. Even in a parking lot, with them it's either stop or full speed ahead. There is no in between. It's terrifying.
 

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My late father-in-law was a bit of a simpleton in his later years. I don't say that to be mean. From head injuries, age, health decline, and very modest education, he was just a simpler guy and more than a little cognitively rigid. He was a two-foot driver, by habit; one foot on the brake pedal, and the other on the gas. As a response to his cognitive decline he adopted very habitual routes, that were essentially the only ones he drove. He lived in the east end of Hamilton. To get to his son's home in Ancaster, he would take rural back roads where there were few cars and he could drive at a slower speed. He never took the Linc or any other main streets.

So, while in one sense, he was a bit of a danger on the road, he thankfully adopted driving habits and routes where his "style" minimized risk of accident or harm to others.

As someone who spent a number of years studying cognitive aging, I'll note that there is considerable research examining the issue of driving in seniors, and what to take into account when determining "fitness to drive". My own stance is that the content of urban roadways has changed in the last 30-odd years in a number of ways that push the envelope, with respect to older drivers:
1) There are more vehicles on the road.
2) There is greater diversity in vehicle size and driver perspective. Drivers of the 10 most popular non-truck vehicles in 1985 would have generally been seated at the same height. The roadways are now a mixture of Smart cars, SUVs with drivers perched way up, and plenty of things in between. Driver seating-height influences visual perspective, and consequently perceived speed.
3) Many cars are more mobile and able to change lanes, and accelerate, in a shorter physical space than before.
4) More drivers are obliged to commute ever-greater distances, and understandably become impatient.
5) Much signage from earlier decades, while suitably placed for 1985 (or earlier) is a poor match for current traffic density and speeds.

The result is that older drivers can be obliged to integrate considerably more information, moment-to-moment, than they might have when younger, or than similarly-aged drivers might have had to integrate several decades back. One of the only dependable facts of cognitive aging is that, for whatever reasons (and there are competing explanations), "speed of processing" slows down with age (not just among "the elderly", but by decade from college age onward). So, as the volume of information to take in, in order to drive safely, increases, it becomes a bigger challenge for older drivers. My sense is that the appropriate tests of fitness-to-drive would depend on where the driver lives and intends to drive, among other things. I understand that there are some places, primarily smaller towns, where a senior can obtain a license for "in-town" driving, so they can go to the grocery or drug store, doctor, coffee shop, or legion hall, but can't hit the highway. Given that such towns will be too small to have public transit or much in the way of taxi service, that seems reasonable.
 

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My mother had Alzheimer's, she was relieved of her driver's licence when she could no longer tell her doctor what year it currently was. Up until then, she drove and my father was navigator. It seemed to work for them. Dad had a habit of falling asleep behind the wheel, so his licence had already been retired. Although he never hit another vehicle, he drove into several ditches and at least one bridge. The car must have always steered right, thankfully. It's a tough time for them no matter how you look at it.
 

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I believe they should retest old people every 5 years, or less as they get older.

And please note, I consider 'old' the age at which you got your license, whether that's 16 or 26 or whatever. Every 5 years from the date you got your license, and every 5 (or less) thereafter.

Way too many people luck into a license and that is the very last time they ever think about the rules and skills required. I see it every single day out there. I am happy to have my skills tested on a regular basis. Anyone with confidence in their abilities should feel the same. I know a lot of people are scared to death of this scenario, and it is pretty obvious why.
 

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Our day will come. I don't look forward to it. I still remember the rush of freedom I felt at 16 when I got my first wheels.
Which is a big part of why laws, by-laws, and regulations for older drivers are such a bone of contention. A great many older persons can be hit harder by loss of a driver's license than they are by loss of employment or a spouse. It's like being told one is no longer an adult. Such is the meaning that we often attribute to driving, and the personal mobility it provides.
 

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I believe they should retest old people every 5 years, or less as they get older.

And please note, I consider 'old' the age at which you got your license, whether that's 16 or 26 or whatever. Every 5 years from the date you got your license, and every 5 (or less) thereafter.

Way too many people luck into a license and that is the very last time they ever think about the rules and skills required. I see it every single day out there. I am happy to have my skills tested on a regular basis. Anyone with confidence in their abilities should feel the same. I know a lot of people are scared to death of this scenario, and it is pretty obvious why.
That's going to entail an awful lot of testers/inspectors, and a bigger bureaucracy to handle all that testing. Not entirely sure that model is financially sustainable. (I realize some will be rather taken aback by my fiscal conservatism here.)

So, to make things more feasible, conceivably every 10 years from point of license until age 70, then again at 75 and 80, and every 2 years thereafter. Some of that retesting would be to verify awareness of any changes to the law since last test. Since the number of people who would require testing past age 70 would be significantly lower, that makes it more manageable.

Five years back I got nabbed for not pulling into the left lane as I drove past a police cruiser that had stopped another car by the side of the highway. I had slowed down considerably, and hugged the line between the right-hand and passing lane to provide a safe distance for the officer to move about his own and the other vehicle. But much to my surprise, a law had been passed that required drivers to move to the left-hand lane (if safe to do so). I had never seen any information in either the papers or on road signs, pertaining to that. Following receipt of the ticket, I kept my eyes peeled the rest of the way home, and spotted ONE sign over several hundred kilometers of highway, indicating that obligation. I asked co-workers if they were aware of this obligation, and none were, except for those that had attained their license in the preceding decade. So, even if competence is not an issue, tangible evidence of awareness of existing or recenyl-introduced law, is appropriate to test for. Although that could be via a paper and pencil test.
 

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That's going to entail an awful lot of testers/inspectors, and a bigger bureaucracy to handle all that testing. Not entirely sure that model is financially sustainable. (I realize some will be rather taken aback by my fiscal conservatism here.)

So, to make things more feasible, conceivably every 10 years from point of license until age 70, then again at 75 and 80, and every 2 years thereafter. Some of that retesting would be to verify awareness of any changes to the law since last test. Since the number of people who would require testing past age 70 would be significantly lower, that makes it more manageable.

Five years back I got nabbed for not pulling into the left lane as I drove past a police cruiser that had stopped another car by the side of the highway. I had slowed down considerably, and hugged the line between the right-hand and passing lane to provide a safe distance for the officer to move about his own and the other vehicle. But much to my surprise, a law had been passed that required drivers to move to the left-hand lane (if safe to do so). I had never seen any information in either the papers or on road signs, pertaining to that. Following receipt of the ticket, I kept my eyes peeled the rest of the way home, and spotted ONE sign over several hundred kilometers of highway, indicating that obligation. I asked co-workers if they were aware of this obligation, and none were, except for those that had attained their license in the preceding decade. So, even if competence is not an issue, tangible evidence of awareness of existing or recenyl-introduced law, is appropriate to test for. Although that could be via a paper and pencil test.
Not sure where abouts you live but I know around my area (Southwestern Ontario) that change in the law, along with one or two others, was pretty highly publicized. They ran a campaign of newspaper and radio ads and I saw it on the news number of times. There was another law introduced at the same time that states if you're waiting for a pedestrian to cross before you turn left or right you have to wait until they clear one complete lane of traffic or step completely off the roadway before you turn.
 

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I believe they should retest old people every 5 years, or less as they get older.

And please note, I consider 'old' the age at which you got your license, whether that's 16 or 26 or whatever. Every 5 years from the date you got your license, and every 5 (or less) thereafter.

Way too many people luck into a license and that is the very last time they ever think about the rules and skills required. I see it every single day out there. I am happy to have my skills tested on a regular basis. Anyone with confidence in their abilities should feel the same. I know a lot of people are scared to death of this scenario, and it is pretty obvious why.
But that would probably cure all our traffic congestion problems. We can't have that now, can we! ;)
 

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That's going to entail an awful lot of testers/inspectors, and a bigger bureaucracy to handle all that testing. Not entirely sure that model is financially sustainable. (I realize some will be rather taken aback by my fiscal conservatism here.)
Disagree entirely. The system is already in place, it would just need to be expanded. That would cost money, no doubt. But it wouldn't be a complete re-invention of anything.

Then subtract the money we save on insurance, with far fewer accidents caused by incompetent drivers. And the money we'd save in emergency room staff, for exactly the same reason. I can't see more testing as costing us money, I just think of the amount it would save us. Do you know how bad insurance companies get ripped off by autobody shops? This would cut into that significantly as well.

70 is way too late. 50 is way too late. I'm seeing 20 year olds that are barely competent at backing our of a parking lot, let alone know the rules of the road.

All I see is a huge financial winfall. For everyone but the guys that run bodyshops, that is.
 
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Not sure where abouts you live but I know around my area (Southwestern Ontario) that change in the law, along with one or two others, was pretty highly publicized. They ran a campaign of newspaper and radio ads and I saw it on the news number of times. There was another law introduced at the same time that states if you're waiting for a pedestrian to cross before you turn left or right you have to wait until they clear one complete lane of traffic or step completely off the roadway before you turn.
That latter one only came into effect January 1 of this year (or was it last year? Tempus fugit). I heard or saw nothing about the emergency-vehicle-pull-over law until after I received the ticket, and began looking out for signs. Problem is, if you rarely drive on highways, you don't see them. And I rarely drive on highways. Additionally, radio ads are going to be largely the domain of private radio, AM or FM, and I'm an inveterate CBC guy. Southern Ontario has a lot more inter-municipality driving and commuting, so I imagine the odds of spotting a relevant sign are higher.

I'm not looking for excuses for my own behaviour. Rather, I think it illustrates that it can be useful to regularly assess whether a driver is up-to-date in their knowledge of those laws that apply to them, because it can easily happen that they aren't. I'd rather get frowny-face feedback on a written test than a $140 ticket and demerit points.
 

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Disagree entirely. The system is already in place, it would just need to be expanded. That would cost money, no doubt. But it wouldn't be a complete re-invention of anything.

Then subtract the money we save on insurance, with far fewer accidents caused by incompetent drivers. And the money we'd save in emergency room staff, for exactly the same reason. I can't see more testing as costing us money, I just think of the amount it would save us. Do you know how bad insurance companies get ripped off by autobody shops? This would cut into that significantly as well.

70 is way too late. 50 is way too late. I'm seeing 20 year olds that are barely competent at backing our of a parking lot, let alone know the rules of the road.

All I see is a huge financial winfall. For everyone but the guys that run bodyshops, that is.
I can't speak to the lower mainland, but around here, people already have to wait lengthy periods for their driving test. Many will book out of town, simply to avoid or shorten the wait. In the grand scheme of things, I certainly side with you with respect to safety trumping convenience. But it still has to be manageable. I may overestimate the administrative burden, but I can't see every 5 years from point of license onward being feasible.

Here's a compromise: written or on-line test every 5 years, and road test every 10 up to age 70. Much of what we hate about other drivers comes not from their reaction time and cognitive competence, but rather from their willful ignorance of appropriate driving and the law. If I had a dollar for every driver who changed lanes in the middle of an intersection, or who didn't comprehend "right of way", I'd be able to afford one helluva rig and a better car. It's been a long time since my last driving test, but as I recall, it did not really test my understanding of the law in real-world circumstances, but was more about one's physical and perceptual ability to accomplish a sampling of normative tasks. That's not to say that the written test was particularly stringent, but it could be made so. Moreover, advances in on-line testing technology allow for the development of large banks of multiple-choice items, such that the tests administered are of the same difficulty/stringency, but no two testees take the exact same test.

One of the more recent developments in employment testing is referred to as "situational judgment tests", where a real-world situation is presented, along with several courses of action to choose from, and the person picks what they feel is the best one. Some companies have developed tests that employ streamed video that freezes at the point where a decision/judgment needs to be made. These could be easily adapted for testing drivers. And, if one wanted, a time-limit for responding could be set to filter out drivers whose cognitive status impairs their ability to make appropriate judgments fast enough.

At some point, I would imagine that driving simulator stations would become part of universal driver testing and licensure. Driving simulators have gotten increasingly realistic. Throw in a VR headset, and the difference between that and a real road test is reduced.
 

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Just a story about my grandfather.

He lived in Quesnel, B.C. (an hour south of Prince George). Every fall, he would drive, with grandmother who didn't ever drive, to Winnipeg. One year, I was asked to go downtown with him, to see his audiologist - he was deaf as a post without 2 hearing aids going full blast. Well, he would have been roughly 75, me about 15 - not driving yet, but getting ready. This would have been about 1978.

I swore I'd never ride with him driving again, and never did.

Sometime around 1992 (so, him in his late 80's), they were on their annual pilgrimage east, and stopped in for the night with us, by now a small family, in Regina. The next morning, I said I'd follow them out and make sure they got on the highway OK, as I had to take that same general route to go to work. Triple turning lane in front of us to go left onto the ring round, he and grandma in front of me. He took up all 3 lanes at low speed, causing chaos in morning rush hour traffic, horns blaring and arms and fingers waving, to which he would have been oblivious. I stared goggle eyed at what was happening, which fortunately turned out to be no collissions and him eventually settling on a lane and heading east. Yowza.

He continued to drive out east annually until he was 94 and well into dementia, at which point they took his license away. Only, oh, 10-15 years late, I thought, but he never that I heard of wrecked or caused any injuries. He was otherwise in great shape and continued to hike several miles back and forth downtown to have coffee with his buddies, though got lost more and more and eventually they put a stop to that too. He lived to 102 and was still in fabulous physical shape, could have taken any 2 of us in an armwrestle, but grandma passed and he gave up. I'm sure he'd have been good to something near 110, and still driving if it were up to him.

Get them old folks tested early and often, sez me.
 
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