Victoria senior fearful of required road test to keep driver's licence

The family of an 88-year-old Victoria man who has to take a road test to regain his driver’s licence says the provincial government is endangering his life by putting him in a vehicle with a stranger for up to 90 minutes during the pandemic.

Lloyd Walters had his licence cancelled by ICBC and the superintendent of motor vehicles on Nov. 10 and is required to complete an Enhanced Road Assessment, which ICBC says determines a person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.

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The assessment can be required of Class 5 and 7 drivers with medical conditions that may affect motor, cognitive and sensory functions required for driving.

Walters’ daughter, Alexis ­Walters Whyte, said a road test during a second wave of ­COVID-19 — and with her father among the demographic most at risk — is “a dangerous and scary thing.”

“They think it’s OK to schedule road tests in a pandemic with seniors … well, it’s not. It’s unconscionable. It’s foolish. It’s bureaucratic nonsense with no consideration for the most vulnerable in our society,” she said.

Drivers are asked to complete Enhanced Road Assessment tests for any number of reasons, including medical conditions, collisions, results of previous driving assessments or reports from police or other drivers.

In Walters’ case, he was reported for an alleged driving infraction by another motorist, said Walters Whyte. Though she didn’t provide details of the allegation, she said the driver followed Walters home and confronted him in his driveway.

“[The driver] just started wailing about dad’s driving … my dad was dumbfounded,” said Walters Whyte.

She said her father got a clean bill of health from his doctor, has a spotless driving record and is reliant on driving to take care of needs for himself and his wife of 64 years.

Walters Whyte said ICBC should suspend the Enhanced Road Assessment tests for seniors until the pandemic eases and issue provisional licences.

In a letter to ICBC, Walters said although he surrendered his licence he doesn’t feel safe taking a road test that could last up to 90 minutes in close proximity to the examiner during the height of the pandemic.

“After being told to maintain at least six feet of space and wear a mask, this demand seemed totally unreal,” said Walters. “Since my age puts me at the top factor for dying of COVID-19 and that my dear wife whom I have been married to more than 64 years would be in the same danger, I simply have no choice but to say no to you [about the test].

“I am a responsible person with a very good driving record …. look it up!”

Walters said he pleaded his case for a delay, but an ICBC clerk only said he was sorry and there was nothing they could do about it.”

According to ICBC, which conducts the tests for RoadSafetyB.C., the assessment consists of a pre-trip vehicle orientation, 45-minute on-road drive with a feedback component half-way through, and a post-trip review.

ICBC initially suspended road tests early in the pandemic, but after a four-month hiatus resumed all tests on July 20 based on protocols set by WorkSafe B.C..

ICBC said driver examiners are required to wear personal protective equipment for the duration of the road tests, including masks, shields, goggles, gloves and disposable seat covers. It is also providing a mandatory medical-grade mask for customers to wear during road tests.

A spokeswoman for the ministry of public safety and solicitor general said Monday if a driver chooses not to complete their Enhanced Road Assessment exam, their driver’s licence will be cancelled, or remain cancelled.

She said if a driver wishes to reschedule and complete the assessment at a later date, they have to contact RoadSafety B.C. and ICBC to discuss rescheduling.

dkloster@timescolonist.com

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