Letters: tests are unsuitable

DriveABLE test is not suitable for assessing driving ability

Below are some comments on “Knowing when it’s time to hang up the keys,” May 15, 2013, for your interest.

Your recent article on B.C.’s DriveABLE test may leave your readers with a somewhat incomplete understanding of this compulsory screening process for seniors.

As I have not heard the speaker myself, I am unable to say whether the reasons for this are the speaker’s remarks themselves or possibly inaccurate reporting. Whatever they are, the report falls somewhat short of presenting an accurate, complete or balanced picture of the various steps of the process, and certainly no evidence to support the claim that its objective is “keeping safe drivers on the road.”

In fact, the two (not one) compulsory standardized “virtual” tests for seniors – but not the actual driving assessment — have been widely reviewed and almost universally deemed unsuitable and inappropriate for use as driving ability assessments, except by those who have a vested interest in or material benefit from them, i.e. the provinces of Alberta (where they originated and are in use) and B.C. (where both have become obligatory), and their Albertan inventors.

Those of your readers interested in more (and more realistic) information about these controversial tests may wish to consult an opinion piece by Black Press columnist Brian Kieran, Monday Magazine, Oct.27, 2011. Various reports over the years by other Black Press or independent community papers are easily available from the always informed and obliging Ms. Google. The March 2011 B.C. Medical Journal, an informal but telling evaluation of the DriveABLE exam conducted by the Elder Advocates of Alberta Society, is also available on the Internet. And finally, if I may be so immodest, Part 1 of my own article which explores this issue (and in subsequent parts B.C. senior care in general) in some depth is available at www.lotuslandblog.ca.

It documents the complete test process in detail, as well as the above references and others. It reflects the status quo as it was about a year ago and likely still is today, except for the improbable (but always possible) event of some major change or revision having occurred to the program since then, other than what may well be little more than a PR exercise by the OSMV (Office of the Supervisor of Motor Vehicles) to counter the extensive critical response to it.

Paul Wagner