How should doctors decide when a senior driver’s license should be reviewed?

Doctors are expected to report people who have a medical condition that prevents them from being able to drive safely. But the line between fit and unfit to drive is difficult to define, especially for seniors with multiple cognitive, sensory and/or physical issues. And as baby boomers age, doctors will increasingly have to weigh the safety of their patient and others, with their patient’s desire for independence and mobility.

Joe Saltarski, an 89-year-old who lost his license earlier this year, thinks the current way doctors test senior drivers is unfair. A former bus driver, he’d only had one minor accident in his life. At age 87, he drove across the country to move closer to his son in Chilliwack, British Columbia.

The first doctor he saw in the province administered a test, called SIMARD MD, aimed at detecting cognitive impairments that can interfere with driving. For one part of the test, he was asked to name some vegetables he would see in a grocery store.

“I pretty near laughed,” says Saltarski.

Based on the results from that doctor’s office test, Saltarski was referred to the Ministry of Transportation and was required to do a road test. He failed that test because the examiner said he exceeded the speed limit in a school zone (which Saltarski disputes). And when he took a second test, the examiner failed him for driving too slow. “You can’t win for losing,” says Saltarski.

Due to the failed tests, Saltarski no longer has a license. He misses being able to go shopping or to the barber on his own, but the psychological blow of losing his license has hit him the hardest. “I feel like I’m going downhill,” he says.

When doctors recommend a patient not drive, it can seriously damage a doctor-patient relationship. “Some patients don’t go back to a doctor who has recommended they don’t drive,” says Chris Frank, a geriatrician and palliative care doctor in Kingston, Ontario.

It can also have negative repercussions for patients. “They feel they’re a bother to everyone if they ask for rides,” says Carol Libman, a consultant with CARP Canada, a seniors advocacy organization. “Isolation is one of the worst things. People get depressed,” she explains.

In other cases, however, family members have been pleading with their loved one not to get behind the wheel, to no avail, and appreciate a decision from an objective authority. When Frank recommended a male patient not drive last week, for example, “his wife was very relieved,” he says.

The decision to remove someone’s license can also prevent deaths. Although senior drivers don’t have more accidents than younger drivers, they are more likely to die in a crash due to increased susceptibility to injury and medical complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2013, drivers 65+ made up almost 20% of driver fatalities caused by collisions, compared to 13% in the 20-24 age group, even though the age groups had the same rate of driver injury. Importantly, however, when it comes to the risk they pose to others, teenagers and drivers in their 20s are much more likely to kill other people on the road than seniors are.

Currently, there’s wide variability in how doctors evaluate a senior person’s driving fitness, and whether they assess it at all.

How doctors decide when to refer a senior who may be unfit to drive

In most provinces, when doctors think someone shouldn’t drive or are unsure, they are required to send a report on that person’s medical condition to their provincial Ministry of Transportation. In Alberta, Nova Scotia and Quebec, doctors aren’t legally mandated to report unsafe or potentially unsafe drivers. But even in those provinces, doctors’ professional bodies recommend reporting. “If a doctor believes that a patient may harm him/herself and/or others by continuing to drive, they are ethically obligated to report,” writes Kelly Eby, director of communications at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta. Depending on the information in the doctor’s report, transportation authorities may suspend the license immediately (if a person has advanced Alzheimer’s, for example), or they might request further medical or road testing.

How doctors decide whether a person’s medical condition should be reported to the Ministry of Transportation varies by province and by individual doctor. The Ministries of Transportation of BC and Alberta recommend that doctors administer the SIMARD-MD test for seniors they suspect may have cognitive issues that prevent them from driving safely. In Ontario, meanwhile, doctors rarely use the SIMARD-MD test, says Shawn Marshall, a doctor who is researching driving habits of seniors for the CanDrive research project.

Libman argues the SIMARD-MD test casts too wide a net and her opinion isn’t without backing. Research published in 2013 in Accident Analysis and Prevention found that drivers who passed many other cognitive tests failed the SIMARD-MD test and concluded the test “lacks sufficient precision to provide clear recommendations about fitness-to-drive.”

Physicians across Canada also rely on the Canadian Medical Association’s guide, which provides advice on what to think about when it comes to the driving ability of more than 100 medical conditions.

It’s ultimately up to physicians to decide how or whether to assess patients on their driving potential, however. One study from 2007 found that Ontario doctors only assessed driving capabilities among their patients who were diagnosed or suspected of having dementia a third of the time.

Chris Simpson, a cardiologist and the president of the Canadian Medical Association, thinks geriatric doctors are “pretty good” at assessing driving, but many family doctors don’t feel comfortable with “making a binary decision” when it comes to seniors who don’t have an obvious impairment. People who have seizures tend to be reported to the Ministry, but “the person with mild dementia, heart failure, renal failure, eyesight that’s not so great” are less likely to be reported, even though all these conditions could be just as dangerous.

Frank agrees. Doctors are much more likely to screen a senior for driving impairments “in cases where somebody says I don’t think my mother or father should be driving,” he says.

Improving the way doctors assess senior drivers

Part of the reason doctors are reluctant to assess senior drivers may be that the current in-office assessments available “have some validity” but can result in some safe drivers failing the assessment and some unsafe drivers passing the assessment. Marshall hopes his research will lead to more evidence-based decisions regarding when doctor’s refer senior patients to the Ministry of Transportation for review. Currently, he and his team are exhaustively examining various indicators of health status and driving habits for around 1,200 senior drivers over a six-year period.

Marshall says data collection will wrap up sometime next year, and based on the information, the CanDrive team hopes to identify the predictors of poor driving and create a tool to guide doctors in assessing patients. The tool likely won’t have simple pass or fail outcomes, says Marshall, but would indicate whether a senior patient is in a safe zone, unsafe zone or middle zone. “If the person is in the middle zone, then you would probably say, what can we do to keep them driving longer? And how do we prepare for when they are no longer able to drive?” he says.

Donald Redelmeier, a doctor and scientist at Sunnybrook Hospital, has conducted several research studies aimed at reducing vehicle collisions, the single biggest killer from birth to middle age. He thinks “how the individual driver is compensating” for changes in physical or cognitive function should be taken into account. Senior drivers tend to avoid driving at night or long distances, for example, which explains that even though seniors have far more collisions per kilometer driven than people in their thirties, they don’t get into more accidents overall than that age group.

Both Redelmeier and Marshall think that providing restricted licenses to senior drivers who may be borderline but not necessarily unsafe could help to improve drivers’ independence while still limiting their risk. Ontario is the only jurisdiction in North America that doesn’t allow restricted licenses for certain seniors. In Alberta, transportation authorities can restrict people to driving during the day time or within a certain distance from their homes, for example. While there is not sufficient evidence to show that putting conditions on a senior’s license decreases the risk of collisions, “graduated licensing for young drivers has been shown to be very effective,” notes Marshall.

As cognitive and physical impairments that come with age will increasingly prompt doctors to investigate driving capabilities, doctors should also think about whether reversible factors like medications or undiagnosed conditions could be interfering with a person’s cognition, says Marshall. “We always have to look at the individual level,” he explains. “Young drivers actually have the highest crash rates and we don’t say young people can’t drive.”

The comments section is closed.

  • Dino says:

    Taking a test like others have described in a Doctor’s office shouldn’t completely be the TRIGGER. My father, 84, is in good physical health, good eyesight, NEVER any accidents, NO tickets, no health conditions that would be considered an issue. Keep in mind, several seniors have an 8th grade education and can’t spell or read as well as others. I’m not sure what went on at his Doctor’s office the other week but he ended up with a letter from Gov’t Albert stating that he will need to take a Road Test in the next 90 days due to a “medical condition”..hmm..would like to know what medical condition that was. Apparently, the jerk of a doctor he has, never even mentioned anything to him and obviously submitted this request. So instead of calling the doctor’s office, he goes off and does the road test because he thinks he “knows it all” — FAIL. So now he has a Learner’s License and he is the Primary Care Giver of my mom (who is on Oxygen). So now this has opened up a REAL PROBLEM!! How can he take her to the doctor or hospital? Get a friend to all the time. They WERE independent but thanks to this system it has KILLED their way of living in a heart beat. Did the Driving instructor give him a sheet of things that went wrong? No — WTH is up with that? I’ve been in the car with him – he drives great compared to what I’ve seen in that community that has a TON of retired people and I’ve never been worried.
    He is now practicing to re-take the road test but not sure if he has to hire a professional or not. This is crazy and upsetting. I would “Expect” a doctor to ask him about his driving history not just give him some crazy standardized test that doesn’t fit and is destined to fail because of an education level. Or is it too much to “expect” a doctor to say “Hey, are you having a problem with driving?”

  • MotherOf4Girls says:

    My grandfather drove off the road and died from a heart attack in the middle of a prairie field. Didn’t hurt a soul. My MIL with slowed reactions and cognitive impairment pulled out in front of a truck and got side swiped (her fault), car a write off. My cousin had an epileptic seizure while driving a tractor, but never since and no one hurt. I was driving tired one day and caught myself falling asleep while driving, pulled over and took a nap. Should we all have had our license removed? We were all unsafe on the road at some point. How do we decide to remove driving licences? By the driving instructors and history of accidents. An accident (cause by driver)=assessment by instructors. Failed test? Get medical clearance, bring to driving facility and re-test in 30 days just like when you initially get your license. Passed test, great drive until next accident. Preventative measures? Mandatory driving lessons every 5 years. The rest of the world has to re-train…why not drivers?

  • Ed says:

    If you can pass a drivers road test with a provincial driving examiner, the same as a new driver, you are safe as anyone else to drive.
    Provincial driving examiners test and see all types of drivers. They know if you should be on the road or not.
    Quit picking on 75 year old seniors!
    If you want to pick, make everyone take a road test every 5 years including the mind readers!

  • Ken DeMatteis says:

    It will be 2 years next October since i have drove. I got a form from the dol for me and a doctor to fill out.It was because of my epilepsy at the time i knew i would pass the test. But the doctor didn’t mention epilepsy at all. She asked me if i seen things that weren’t really there and if i talk to people who are visible. At first i laughed and said i am not crazy of course i don’t do those things. She took my license away she put dementia and loss of memory on the paper (or forms). I do not have either problems i want my life back.

  • Daniel Clin says:

    I’m 58 and my licence was revoked because I have essential hand tremors. Went to the doctor to take a test call The Montreal test. I thought it would test my reflexes etc., but the questions they asked had nothing to do with driving. They gave me a string of 10 random words, and I was asked to repeat them all after 20 minutes. I got 4 right. Failed that part. Then they asked (1 minute time limit), “What do they sell at the grocery store?”. Having not cooked for a family in 10 years, I basically just buy pre-made sandwiches at the store. I listed meat, cheese, milk, bread, butter, cereal, vegetables, Kraft Dinner, Yogurt, pop, water, cigarettes, peanut butter and jam. Failed that part. I have perfect vision, and did an online reflex test where as soon as a dot appears on the computer screen, you hit the left mouse button. Scored a .231 millisecond response. I have never had an at fault accident, and have only got 2 tickets in my 42 years of driving. Another test had 26 letters and 26 numbers arranged in random corcles on a huge sheet of paper. I was supposed to draw a line from A to 1, 1 to B, B to 3 etc. They take points off if you lift your hand. As the sheet of paper was so big, my arm covered most of the circles. I did draw the line correctly, but failed because I had to lift my hand off the paper to see the circles. Absolutely ludicrous!

  • Rosa Simmons says:

    Sorry, but she needs to be off the road before she kills herself and/or someone else. I want my independence as much as anyone but if I had that many accidents in so short a time, it is time to hang up the key. Would the family be willing to become her transportation without causing guilt feelings for her?

  • Joe Duarte says:

    The danger is age discrimination. Regardless of age, there are a number of drivers that should not be driving regardless of age. For example, if you live in a city, then the need for a car is not as valued as you live in rural Canada. By simplifying applying age as the criteria, could have a significant impact on the quality of life for the senior. The other issue is the family doctor. Does the doctor have the ability to make an unbiased decision, or is the doctor qualified to determine a patient’s cognitive skills? Bad health is relatively determinable. If a patient doesn’t have a health issue impairing their driving skills, and the patient manages their financial affairs, then why shouldn’t they be allowed to drive regardless of their age? The sad part is that an exam is an attempt to make an issue black and white without any consideration for the person. Factors that should be considered in the exam process such as education and the command of the English language. For example, if I moved to Germany, and was required to take their test in German, it possible I could fail the exam, but does it have anything to do with driving?

    If you are going to remove a person’s licence, then it requires a holistic approach. A person’s health, as it impacts driving, should be a factor regardless of age. Driving history should also be considered. A person’s mental capabilities should be left to a qualified doctor with expertise in that area of medicine, not a family doctor.
    As to the families that believe that there is a decline in the cognitive abilities of their loved one, then the issue goes beyond driving. If a person doesn’t have the mental capacity to drive, then they don’t probably have the capacity to make financial decisions. That requires an entirely different approach.

  • Stefania says:

    My brother is 81 years old. He thought he doesn’t need glasses to do his driver’s test at his doctor’s office. He went to his family doctor with some paper to renew his driver’s license. He did not have his glasses to be able to see the EYE CHART properly, so he failed it. Then he could not see well the questions asked on some Alzheimer’s test was given, so he also failed it. Now he wants to buy glasses and do it again. How can he do that? He doesn’t have any health conditions, he also doesn’t have Alzheimer’s disease. He is sane and capable of remembering a lot. I am 62 and I forget some stuff, so he reminds me. Is there such thing as appealing a doctor’s decision? What does he need to do? Please let me know.

  • Myrna Afari says:

    What if a Geriatrician does a medical assessment for a female patient who had a severe headache, a 4-hr.previous night sleep and was not entirely ready for testing her memory? His assessment is not accurate, based on the condition of the patient who has not seen this doctor previously. Patients should have the right to a second assessment. The patient has some medical conditions, treated and has never had an at fault accident. Family feels she is a very good driver and should have her license. Her only joy is driving a couple of blocks for groceries and the library. So very unfair; depression sets in. There should be more evidence based medical decisions on these unfair assessments.

  • Martin Fontana says:

    There is a need for all drivers to be assessed for all aspects of driving including their passengers who may or may not be better drivers or highly distracting!
    I took my driving test 3 times and had at least 4 accidents which could have been avoided! I have taken the online theory test 5 times and when it comes to Hazard Perception I could have panicked when a police car was coming head on at 50mph maybe 500yards away on the (A46?)

  • Michelle Dupuis says:

    My mother 86, has had three accidents that she thinks other people caused in the last month. She has a brand new car. She lives by herself. She does not go to the doctor. They just renew her meds. I can’t force her to see a doctor. Driving is her only pleasure and when ( not if) she is forced to stop she will go downhill quick. She is on the highway 4-5 times a week and now missing both passenger and drivers mirrors!

    • Martin Fontana says:

      My friend is 78 and only driven 3 times in 6 years. I believe there is a need evry 3 to 5 years for driver assessment before saying to anyone who may just be having a day you can’t drive anymore! More important there should be passenger assessment for 20mins to point out that they are not the loose nut behind the wheel who is responsible ultimately for the final decision!
      Ask me about my accidents and i will tell you how they could have been avoided!

    • Martin Fontana says:

      And in 10years of minicabbing in London I lost at least 7 door mirrors on my escort!

    • Joe Durte says:

      I understand that driving is one of her pleasures, but were the accidents due to bad coincidences or her fault? The car appears to be unsafe, and are you comfortable being a passenger with her driving?

      If you have concerns, then you need to step in and probably consult other professionals or a lawyer that specializes in mental health. Otherwise, the accidents may have been a minor fender bender now, the loss of life is real, including her own.

      In the end, we all have a responsibility to do the right thing for our loved ones!

    • Shane says:

      Tell her she’s going to kill someone. I can guarantee, she was responsible for all three.

  • Tim Finn says:

    Not a lot of info on physical inpairment due to motor skills degradation, ( arthritis, muscle atrophy etc.) Is a driven test the appropriate assessment tool?

  • naji crigler says:

    i am 85 and and been driving for last 45 years with no accident why did i lost my privilege

    • Shane says:

      Because you constantly drive 10-15 under the speed limit, slow down to a stop and start turning BEFORE you turn on your blinker, and you sit at a right turn on a red when the lane closest to you is clear, just because the outside lane has traffic in it.
      Even if you have no accidents YOURSELF, you are liable to CAUSE OTHERS to get in an accident by being slow and indecisive.

  • Pauline Sandys says:

    My sister’s doctor has just told us that my older sister is no longer a safe driver and he is sending that report to the ON Transport authority. We are not sure about next steps.Should she challenge the diagnosis ? SHould she apply to have driving lessons and and an independent assessment of her driving ability??/

  • Patricia Black says:

    February 5, 2020 on my way to work, I was involved in an accident causing damage to my vehicle and others, I was proceeding slowing through a mall parking lot, I applied brakes,lost control of vehicle on the icy roadway. Airbag did not deploy, I was hurting from hitting steering wheel, and went to emergency to be checked, after Xrays doctor came into examining room, said I was OK except for bruising, however she was terminating my driver license. I asked why, response was “you are over 80 years, should not be driving, you are a danger to yourself and others”, no medical cause given, then told me I was free to leave and left the room. She had spent less than 10 minutes with me, had never seen me before, with exception of high blood pressure controlled with medication, I have no medical concerns, was manager for a retail store, caregiver for my husband , also Director for our local Agricultural Society and Farmers Market. I have received a medical suspension of my license, have to take cognitive testing and driver testing, tests that have been postponed twice do to covid 19, tests will cost $400.00 plus I have to find/hire a driver to take me to Grande Prairie, a 2 hour drive away, there is no public transportation. What did this doctor see in such a short time that would indicate to her that I was a danger on the road, why would she just walk away, no further discussion, no medical treatment recommended? S he did has turned my world upside down, I now walk many blocks to the closest grocery store, my husband remains at home, missing his drive in the country, certainly covid 19 has only added to the problems. I would never fault a doctor from reporting someone if they had concerns re a patient’s driving ability but no doctor should have the right to see a new patient for less than 10 minutes, recommend a driver license suspension but not work with the patient, giving guidance re their medical conditions. There needs to be better laws/guidelines in place.


    A year ago my wife admitted me to the hospital though I was having a heart attack .5 days later lots of tests no heart attack but diagnosed as TIA.

    I have been doing many tests since trying to get back to driving .It just never ends ,cant even get a driving test due to virus restrictions .

    64 years perfect driving record .

    Not fair

  • Noela Wright says:

    I do little driving and not at night time, My driving is at the stores and Doctors,
    Long drives my son drives me there, I get my drivers insurance at I.C.B.C.
    They have a great Staff

  • Subar Reddy says:

    It is in the best interest of every-one if a senior is unfit to drive,after failing all medical tests. He or she should not be allowed to drive.

  • Charles Eymundson says:

    This question placed above has a very limited and biased set of only 3 specific answers to select from. What about yes or no questions? How about anyone whatever their age, if their driving skills are borderline? That would put every young driver off the road, at least until they got the experience driving with their parents for a couple of years.

  • Jen says:

    I think there comes a time if we live long enough, where many of us lack the cognitive and physical abilities to drive safely. Few people give up their licence voluntarily, so we need appropriate and meaningful assessments (directly connected to driving abilities) for persons over 80 to make sure they continue to be safe to drive.
    Based on discussions with several acquaintances, some Ontario family doctors seem reluctant to notify the Ministry that an elderly has a medical condition that makes them a potentially unsafe driver. Two friends have told me they have a parent over 80 who is an unsafe driver and notified their parent’s doctor about their concerns, but the parent is still driving so they assume the doctor declined to report it.
    In my personal situation, my 90-year-old mother lost her licence this year, based on a physician’s recommendation. She was resentful and doesn’t believe she should have lost her licence, although everyone else in our family knew it is most definitely safer for her to stop driving. On the other hand, my father is 93 and an okay driver. And, like many of his friends, he voluntarily adjusted his driving to avoid driving at night, not taking long trips, and avoiding major highways.
    On the question of restricted licences – if a doctor has identified a medical condition that impacts driving, the person should probably no longer drive.

  • Patricia Black says:

    I am a senior, 81 years, no medical issues except for high blood pressure since I was age 20, under control with medication, don’t wear glasses , work 5 days weekly, duties include sales, stocking shelves, but mainly management, payroll, banking etc., drive 15,000 to 20,000 kilometers yearly, never had an accident until recently, hit icy patch, lost control of my vehicle, may have applied brakes incorrectly, seems there is a right/wrong way depending on type, also may be due to an earlier brake issue the was looked after, other vehicles were damaged, I had minimal back and chest pain, examining doctor said she was having my license suspended as I was over 80 years and a danger to myself and others, time will see what Motor Vehicles decide but I would recommend more training/ better testing so that all doctors have better resources available in order to access all drivers ability to driver.

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  • RP says:

    Fortunately in 10-20 years seniors may have the option of an autonomous driverless car. It will mean a new level of freedom and safety for us all.

  • John Cedric Boyer III says:

    Teenage drunks are more dangerous than seniors

  • Gale antoniuk says:

    My parents are both in their 80’s and my mom she doesn’t watch how she is driving.

  • Pauline says:

    My husband has been assessed with mild dementia and was told at the clinic to take the functional test. Well he didn’t and received a notice of suspension. Off to the doctor’s office and she explained that the medical forms he was sent could only be filled in for a change in condition which was not happening. she also said that he could still likely take the test if he phoned right away to arrange one. He has now been told this by her twice as he has forgotten to arrange the test both times. Today he asked me to remind him to call them tomorrow so he could take the test. Sorry, but I’m not going to do that. If he can’t remember to phone them, I don’t think he should be on the road. My family has been concerned about his driving for years. I feel badly but think I am doing the right thing.

  • B. CAIN says:

    I am a Senior (76) , has had his licence revoked by a Doctor who was not happy that I answered his Cognitive Questions by 100%! He had all his Degrees from His Highschool Diploma to A Couple o Higher Degrees on A Wall Behind Him! I SHOULD HAVE SAID MAYBE I SHOULD HAVE DONE THAT WITH MINE, ALSO, (Master of Science in Edu.) Needless to say hecwas unhappy When I Answered All Questions With 100 % ACCURACY AND HE FAILED ME FOR MY SMILE!

    I HAVE DRIVEN FOR 60 Years with 1 “Speeding Trap” Ticket! You figure ot out!

    B. C.

  • Jo-Anne Naslund says:

    I feel very strongly it should be based on a road test not just upon a family doctor’s assessment based on a single cognitive test. My father has had his license unfairly suspended because of his partner. Not sure what recourse he has to now be re-tested–he has not been given the chance to do a road test which I believe he would pass.

  • Christina langlois says:

    I believe that after 85, seniors should only be allowed to drive within certain daytime hours, if medically sound.

  • Allen McDougall says:

    Doctors with normal IQ should be able to tell if a senior is able to drive safely by the seniors physical condition which, since the senior is the doctors patient, should already know if the senior has a condition that may compromise his-her ability to drive! If the doctor is unsure of his patient, he should issue an order for road test and not rely on a vegetable count in a grocery store!

  • Alfred Mahon says:

    I know a Doctor who coded my wife for DNR without consent. but in a letter months after she died he said he did it “because of her age and her Co-Morbidities”,which is an invalid reason, being not specific or clinically determined. All your above questions need to be properly assessed to the individual, using responsible and fair and understanding guidelines. I’m 89 and I dare most regulations to find enough valid reason to take away my D.L. I’ve seen many seniors get depressed for that reason and did not deserve it

  • Fairman says:

    This is a pretty biased survey considering every answer points to yes, without the option or equal amount of options for No they should not have a restricted license and just be left alone. Furthermore according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2013, drivers 65+ made up almost 20% of driver fatalities caused by collisions, compared to 13% in the 20-24 age group is again biased to fudge numbers… age 20-24.. so 4 years as compared to 65+ . which could be.. lets say 20 years dosent seem fair. Why not at least compare it to drivers 20-29 age group?

  • Heather Dorey says:

    I believe that taking away seniors driving licence is discriminatory. I sat with dad on his memory test and I couldn’t pass it.

  • Ben Walburger says:

    Charging $160.00 for a 5 minutes med test of seeing wiggly fingers and a blood pressure test, which is normal and with no medical conditions at all
    I’m 86 and never see a Dr, not ever taken meds.. not even an aspirin, yet forced to either pay or loose your licence

  • Paul M C Barritt says:

    My father received two letters advising him his license is suspended as of October 21, 2018. He received the letters yesterday. The 21st is my birthday. The doctors my parents see said that they are a strain on the healthcare system. Sounds like great bedside manners. My dad is 83. The doctor that sent the MTO the notice saw him a year and a half ago. My dad has know accident, tickets or dents in his 2013 vehicle. He drives my mother to medical appointments and the like. The geriatric team asked would you consider contributing to our palliative care initiative and have you considered moving into the home we’re attached to (clinic adjoins a retirement and nursing home). Are seniors with money being funneled into homes to supplement pension plan returns? The increase in B3 care facilities is staggering.

    • fairman says:

      It is BS that seniors have paid taxes all their lives and have to pay for long term care or any care for that matter. While people in jail (a long term care facility).. actually get paid everyday while incarcerated and room and board covered with medical if needed, all being paid for by the taxes the seniors have paid thier whole lives. the system needs reversed and someone needs to start a partition or something to these changed.

  • Bonnie Rowley says:

    These suggested restrictions are way out of whack!
    Being 85 for some is like being 65 with no meds, no medical issues and have driven without incident all their lives. Total discrimination and Degrading to a senior age 85 who has it all together!
    That so called Cognitive test at age 80 is nothing but a “cash cow”. Laughable, disrespectable, discriminating and degrading. I had it and was furious. I’m 81 and extremely active, driving many miles a year and can drive very well around the city of Vancouver. To ask me to remember five “words”, then ask me three questions and then back to five words which mean not a damn to driving a car was a joke! Then along came the 10 words. Oh, please spare me!
    Finally to my Dr. who should damn well know about any disability, meds and medical issues I may have, hence, scrap the stupid test for $120! Yes, I believe in a road test so your up to date on signage et al. Speed limits, which younger folks are exempt from!!!!!!!! They can drive any speed they want! They are the ones at a four way stop sign to who slow down and drive through, NOT STOP! Please show me some respect can respond to my email! I am a senior of very sound mind slowly heading towards 85!

  • John says:

    I have been driving for last 55 yrs. of which 30 years driving a milk truck for Island Farms. Never had an accident. My doctor ordered some scans of my head because I can’t always say what I want to say, so I have a speech problem and the name for it is aphisia, just the speech part of it. I just got a letter that ICBC has cancelled my drivers licence. Can they just do that? What options have I got. I just got back from driving 29 foot 5th. wheel from Palm Springs as I have been doing for for last 20 yrs. with no problems. To loose my licence certainly wrecks our life style.
    I hope this is a private message

  • Judith Gray says:

    Impossible to assess. Some ninety year olds are safe to drive. And some sixty year olds are not.

  • francine odom says:

    why has my father been sent twice to new jersey for testing when the they have testing areas in phila my father had cataract surgery after surgery doctor said no longer need for glasses 20 20 vision now father does have a pacemaker and defibulater implante 89 years drove school bus for the phila. school system never had an accident in the 33 years of driving hes also been back to doctor 3 times he is very upset know wating for letter with a final decision please he me so i can put my Father at ease

  • John Buiel says:

    I think they should look at the driving records of the person in question.

  • Donald Mac Kay says:

    Your questions are out dated, now comes something
    different .Right now as I write there are people smoking
    Marijuana and driving its been a problem for years, its time to think
    Seniors are driving well into there 95 range but new drivers with the sticker Green
    are driving to fast on the highways ,Then there are Medical Marijuana people with pain
    They must go through many test to get some and show a card from a Doctor now With the new Laws
    Coming Its going to be out of control ,We all know who Started all this mess now What. It will be people Driving Stoned. I bet the Police are Worried, and many more people.

  • Patricia Hill-McCombs says:

    I do not think the testing of seniors is good enough. There should be both a physical and mental certificate from their doctors before they are tested by the DOT. The physical and mental wellness is very important and is overlooked too often. I witnessed an accident by a senior who droved into a back of a large disability van and she did not even try to avoid it and this was in a hospital drive through where to pick and discharge patients. I have also seen accidents where seniors hit the excelerater instead of the brake and is happens more often in seniors driving than young people.

  • steven seateck says:

    I have an 89 year old neighbor and find her driving skills are excellent.a few of her “friends”have told her that her licence will not be renewed due to her age.Her friends are her age as well.Is there any truth to what they are telling her?

  • Irene Peel says:

    I would like to get my licence back, so am retrying the cognitive test through by doctor and have called Rick at the Driving School for some information.

  • Irene says:

    What if a senior driver is capable of driving on the highway, why should he be restricted? If a senior driver has mild cognitive problems because he always had this problem but is considered a good driver why should he be restricted? What if he was on heavy medication which made him a poor driver but has been off this medication for many months and is feeling fine now, does this make him a poor driver?

    Thank You

    • steven seateck says:

      I agree with you Irene.I am a 66 year old driver and must say the “only” time I have had any problems with other drivers they have usually been younger the myself.
      Very unfair for eldrely drivers to be painted with yhe same brush.

  • Mrs. Kim Breslin says:

    I think the restricted drivers license for seniors would b a good idea and still allow them some freedom. The problem with that is: I think my husband is an excellent highway driver but am more concerned with his city driving. Things can happen so quickly in the city with so many more distractions, I think it is difficult to judge what restrictions should be placed on on what people.

    Also: Because of being charged with failing to yield (a charge I still do not believe was merited), my husband needs to take another driver’s test.That is fine but what I do not feel is right is that questions on the test seem to be geared to young drivers or those who have committed enough offences to be aware of the penalties for said offences!

    e.g. We both received our licenses long before the day of graduated licenses for young people. Therefore, we do not even know what a type one or type two driver is nor how many years of driving one needs to be able to accompany another less experienced driver. I do not think these type of questions are relevant to seniors and there should be more relevant questions for the senior age group! My husband passed all the first part of the test which was all about signs etc.

    I hope my comments will be considered in the overall plans of licensing for senior drivers!

  • Glenn knolls says:

    Seniors without licences don’t think they’re a nuisance, they are a nuisance.

  • Anthony says:

    I lost my license driving after a test at a local Optometrist. 6 monhts later I did another test at an optometrist that had newer equipment in his office.. I passed on his equipment and got my license back. Crazy. But that did happen.
    Best to you. The second doctor was more expensive than the first. He charged me twice as much for glasses. That was several years ago. I have Never had an accident. Nor any citation by traffic police. I am now 90 yrs of age. Very healthy.

  • Norah Gammon says:

    I may have to take the test can you tell me why it cost $500 (in Ontario).


    My aunt has middle stage dementia and the doctor won’t suspend her drivers licence. He is not there when she drives up on the curb, side swipes cars and keeps driving. Stops in the middle of a intersection to take a phone call cause she knows not to talk and drive. When she lost her car for three days in her parking spot or when she got lost driving for 7 hours trying to find her way home.
    Family members should be able to file for a licence suspension when they know there is a dangerous situation that can be avoided. Doctors don’t see the mentally ill person for more than 13 minutes once in a blue moon and they only see them when they are in a good cooperative mood.
    Police officers are few and far between and can not take a third party report of damages to vehicles nor can they hear the pleads of concerned citizens or family members. They must have first hand reported account of each infraction or their hands are tied. I was told “as long as they can afford to pay the insurance from the accidents and the insurance company keeps insuring them then they have the right to drive no matter how bad a driver they are.”
    The system is truly messed up and needs more consequences for irresponsible and dangerous drivers.


      I should also mention that I pleaded with my Auntie to stop driving before she hurt some one and her response was ” if I die, I die. I’m ready to go”. she is 83 with middle stages of dementia. And has no logical thinking or care for others. She is like a spoiled child and just wants her freedom to do as she pleases with no regard to anyone else adult or child she may kill in the process. She is like a constant drunk driver and when she kills someone she will just plead not responsible due to mental defect.
      Regardless of age people should NOT have the right to drive when they are a danger to themselves or others and there must be more ways to remove dangerous threats from the roads. Driving is a privelage to those who follow the rules and care about not only their lives but others. Driving should not be a right to those whom continually offend and disregard safety procedures and place others at risk.

  • Glenn Knolls says:

    There’s no doctor involved in administering these tests. It may be done by a grade 5 dropout for all we know.

  • Cheryl says:

    My 89 year old father is in the same perdiciment as Mr. Saltarski. The doctor required a cognitive test along with a road test. He did so-so on the cognitive test, however the driving test was a different story. He went down 2 one-way streets the wrong way and run a stop sign. The tester still passed him (not really my recommendation) but he has the restrictions of no driving after dusk and no driving on roads with a speed limit of over 50 mph. He was very upset but at least he has a license to go to the doctor or get his own groceries.

  • Jack Mclean says:

    Was studip enough not feeling right went to local hospital held hostage month in rehab after what was told 12 month medical suppension well18 now still ignoring me given run around lied to about no cost over 5 times new driver for what they are trying to ectort by out soursing this area , lies by system destroy freedom indépendance quality of life family values chance of work all over paod to screw you system of the unqualified heartless assholes

  • Noela Wright says:

    I feel for some seniors it would be a hard ship , as for my self I have to drive my husband every where that is needed,
    having a Doctors check up I think is fine ,but a drivers test no, I was asked to work at one of the testing stations,
    one that I trained is now training bus drivers, so I feel that I am doing just fine with my driving ,
    all it dose is get a person up set ,I do not drive at night time, or in real bad weather, I call for a taxi,

  • Gordon Ganderton says:

    Seniors of age 80, who volunteer to give up, or are deprived of a driving license SHOULD be eligible to receive a completely FREE bus pass.

  • Todd says:

    I feel if anyone has had a stroke or seizures from a stoke should not be allowed to drive. It’s a risk to be behind the wheel of a vehicle.

  • john doe says:

    Seniors who have good health should be allowed to drive and continue their independence. They may be required to take a refresher course since they may have taken a lot for granted, however the Dr. should continue to allow the seniors to drive. There may be a need for limited driving on highways and in the nights, however they should be allowed to drive in the daylight for grocery shopping and meet their friends at the mall or a restaurant. Our society has a high percentage of seniors and they should not be degraded by the Dr. and Alberta Transportation to make them feel worthless and incapable of been a contributing part of society.

    • Irene says:

      Hi I have read your comments and agree with them (especially) the first comment but I do disagree with comment #2 which talks about running a STOP Sign. This should never be done but I do think the punishment was too harsh, as this has happened to my husband (he was hit by a young driver) going through a STOP Sign he, fortunately was not too badly hurt but has never forgotten this accident which was caused by someone else. I am a driver and am 82 years old.

    • Irene Peel says:

      I agree!!!

  • Gisele says:

    I live in a building where there are a lot of elderly and really have of them really should not be driving. I am sorry but they go up the down ramps in garages or the whole space and half the time you need to back up because they can’t make it) its incredible, they drive so slow its a hazard. They have cars that are way too sophisticated and way too big for their driving skills (I don’t know why they get such big cars). I see them trying to park and it boggles the mind why they are still driving (they are up on the curb, it takes so many attempts and even then either the front is sticking out or the rear). A lot of them are still very good drivers. Most should not be on big roads when they are trying to merge at 40 when the cars are going 80 or a 100. It is scary. Their must be some kind of test that can be done for this.

  • Edmund Rockburne says:

    I think senior drivers like all others should not be subject to testing unless their driving record is bad, or they are obviously physically unable to drive, e.g. blind. The seniors have the best accident record of all ages and are being singled out, without evidence or cause. If there is going to be testing, let it be for all ages , say every three years, with the GOLD STANDARD, on road test by the Ministry, and not by contractors.

  • Gary Muzin says:

    Passed cognitive test but failed spatial one instructor said i was good but doesnt meet mto standards 0ccupational therapist failed me because she was predjudiced from the start after i told her about meds i take for a removal of brain tumour i am willing to ber 9 0ut of 10 people dont meet mto driving standards plus i made anti union accusations

  • Gary Muzin says:

    Totally unfair testing driving good but doesnt meetmto standards most drivers dont meet these standards test 9 0ut of 10 drivers and youll see they dont meet mto standards

    • Richard Heft says:

      Hi Mr. Muzin,

      I’m very much hoping to get in touch with a Gary Muzin, who taught at Westmount Park School in the 1970s. Myself (Richard Heft), Marcus Macdonald and Anne Wade are organizing a re-union Zoom call (I’m writing this July 7, 2020)… we’d LOVE you to be on it. Here’s my email, in case you are the same Mr. Muzin. Hope to hear from you!

      Richard (

  • Lillias Skinner says:

    There should be a consistent government policy regarding Seniors’ driving licenses. I live in Alberta where some Doctors routinely complete the License forms and others appear to send all 80 yr olds for Memory Testing regardless of the medical and cognitive abilities of the Senior. This of course is a tremendous waste of Medical resources.
    In my opinion a practical driving test is the best way of assessing Senior drivers. More of a balance is needed in assessment. The negative effects, depression, lack of social interaction etc. that can come with the loss of a driving licence, need consideration and more restricted licenses should be permitted.

  • GORD JAMRS says:


  • Dollores Wadden says:

    A driver’s permit is a licence to freedom for a senior. An individual who may have driven for longer than 60 years may be adversely affected ””.by an individual with a single source of evidence determining the abilities of the person being tested. There must be more criteria taken into consideration before the final decision is made to justify this very life changing action. There are no two cases alike and each situation must be dealt with very serious thought as to the complete effect on the well being of the individual in question. The loss of your ability to drive is akin to losing a spouse , a long time job or any other life changing occurrence. I whole heartedly support a restricted licence that allows the
    individual in question the opportunity to drive to their local grocery store , their local library or their local doctor.

  • Karen Gardner-Ogg says:

    Once a person has several medical issues, poor reaction time, peripheral eye damage and lack of decision making it’s time to think of their safety and others.

  • Angela says:

    Drivers have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty! The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, The Human Rights Act, The Criminal Code on Elder Abuse and the person’s right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty is being violated.
    n an undemocratic act by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MOT), seniors are now being targeted for ‘special’ memory testing resulting in unfair Seniors Drivers Licensing Suspensions that many people call outright unfair and predatory.

    The Minister of Transportation admitted that the Ministry did not have the statistical justification to enact the discriminatory legislation against the elderly drivers, but proceeded anyway, apparently on preconceived views about the elderly. This does not only make this law illegal, but it seems to violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, The Human Rights Act, The Criminal Code on Elder Abuse and the person’s right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. And it puts profits into the hands of self- assessing business people, while ignoring the inherent predatory practices and conflicts of interests.

    Why is the RCMP is not investigating this charade?

  • Allan Bitterman says:

    I had brain surgery,Dec.10th 2016 Dr.Dan Warren told me I could not drive till my last Catscan was done.Had the scan,April 7th phoned his office everyday to find the result of the scan…………today,April12th his nurse read me a letter from the surgeon…….”because you drove your car to go for a coffee…….you will have to wait 8 weeks to find out the results of the SCAN”….I phoned his office the day I went for coffee. He would never have known otherwise…….right!!
    how come he has such a hold over me??????? I have been driving for 51 years………NO SPEEDING TICKETS,NO ACCIDENTS………NADA!!!

  • divad says:

    the problem also arises, that there are so many Meds come into play, which also affect the way a person operates the vehicle. some people take all kinds of meds and are still driving…

  • divad says:

    you are all going to get old one day…….then…..

  • Grant says:

    50% of all doctors are below average! Who is monitoring them to make sure they aren’t causing undue issues for their patients? … seriously…

  • W. A. Hart says:

    After losing my license (medical reasons) and my anger subsided I worked it out. Bus and streetcar service in Toronto is exceptional. Effective medication has normalized much of my life. People who don’t know me have no idea I require medication to maintain my lifestyle. And long (very long) walks are on my menu at least twice a week. I walk alone. I read more than I ever have. My creative mind is working overtime and, finally, I’m thankful for exceptional care from Dr. G. at St. MIchael’s hospital.

  • ib jensen says:

    Yes i agree with testing, but only drivers with a poor driving record young and old. Dont disturb drivers with a clean and accident free driving record, they earned their points and should not be judged with the same stick. I also think driving simulators should be used to test driver skills and reactions, i think hands on is the only way to tell who should be driving, airplane pilots test on simulators regularly to keep their licence, why not the same for on the road drivers.
    Ib Jensen

  • Liz says:

    I think your testing is unfair as you are asking elderly people to draw a three dimensional box or similar 3D diagram. This is unfair as they were not taught how to do that while growing up. It is not a flair request for anyone to draw three dimensional diagram.

  • DD says:

    My farther inlaw is 95. My husband and I know he shouldn’t be driving. We can’t get it through his head. We try to drive him around when we can. One night he took the car an was missing for 3 hrs. My own farther at 90 had a car accident so my sisters and I said he couldn’t afford to buy another car. At 89he had renewed his liscence for 10 yrs that would have made him 99. Come on DMV. Take responsibility no one that age should be driving.

  • victoria wilson says:

    A drs visit cannot testa seniors ability to drive safely. My mother just got her 80 yr dr visit license approved, how? did her dr go for a drive with her? does she know my mom can only park in straight ahead parking, cannot make left hand turns, never shoulder checks? Cannot and will not learn to pump her own gas. She is frightening to be in her car with. I find this really dangerous, they should be required to take a road test, it would eliminate timid ,nervous anxious dangerous drivers like her.

  • Paul Stein says:

    Stop the darn age discrimination! Re-test or remove licenses from ANY driver that has multiple tickets, traffic accidents or other traffic violations. Stop picking on the older generation just because they are older. Isn’t age discrimination illegal in this day and age in Canada? Why are we still practicing it? Stop it!

  • Catherine says:

    Why is age have any regards to how anyone can perform,this is inhumane as far as im concerned.there are seniors that can perform better then younger people,go to a gym and watch,this isnot fair just because of a number.the discretion of driving a vehicle should be left up to the individual.

  • Jan says:

    Ok so I admit I was at fault. Rear ended someone. Traffic stopped I had new car with phone set up new to me so when it rang split second look to see who was calling and boom. was charged with failing to yield ( median on one side traffic on other) no excuse. Anyway because I am 71 got letter To be retested. Only accident I have ever had in my 40+ years of driving. My complaint is since I retired I do not do highway driving. Only around town to do my volunteer work, Doctor , hair appt lunch etc. Why do I have to be forced to do a test on highway driving. Took refresher course been told I was good driver but I do not want to do highway no reason too. Did my written and vision test 100%. Now if I was 80 year old I would be given this little kindergarten written test. No road test. And since I am more able and more mobile than an older than me person I have to do all this. This does not seem right. Anybody have any answers.

  • Daisy Heisler says:

    Patients have a right to see what is in their medical file. You have a right to see and know what the physician is writing about you. You also have a right to a copy of your own medical information. Just ask and if you are refused, insist on your rights and discuss what is being written. You may have to pay for copies. Confidentiality means your medical information cannot be shared to a third party without your consent. I wrote a book about one doctor’s fight to honor and keep his Hippocratic Oath in his fight with the BC govt. who wanted all patient secrets. The book is listed on the web and I wrote it because I want the public to KNOW their rights.

  • Daisy Heisler says:

    Your questions to vote are limited to how to take seniors off the road. Why not include more positive questions about senior ability to drive to make a vote fair? In fact, many seniors live on or by a highway. This article is interesting, but it also points out how younger people are asleep at the wheel when it comes to research. I have been hit five times by people younger than myself (two times when my car was legally parked and two times rear-ended when stopped at a red light and rear-ended in a construction zone when I was stopped). I have caused no accident. Seniors should not be discriminated against until they show signs of needing some kind of help. My experience is that age is not in numbers. We DO NOT all age at the same time. I have worked in medicine for a quarter of a century and I know that physicians can be incompetent assessors of all kinds of conditions. Furthermore, some physicians quake and shake when they need to assess for government purposes.

  • Anne says:

    perhaps the time has come where seniors need a Big ” S’ decal on their vehicles,
    just like the ‘L’ “N’
    other vehicles can be patient and have and a greater awareness to these senior drivers.

  • Patricia Rust says:

    I think that the way we treat one another is important. We are people no matter what age and want to feel considered and treated respectfully and not like objects. The tests that we give them put them in a position of feeling judged and lesser humans. I am not saying that we shouldn’t do some assessments but these should be in a their environment and simply spending some time with them, going for a drive with them and getting a sense of how the person behaves naturally in their environment would be a better evaluation. This could be done over a course of time with 2 visits over a year where an individual gets to know the senior and can better assess a situation.

  • Dorothy. Mairs says:

    No she Dr, said I could drive if I wood drive in the big city
    I got my car to drive around in my town .
    Iam 85 and I have not had any weary

  • Hunter Gates says:

    I believe we must all look at this issue as if it is our own, for one day it will be. If we are restricting our seniors then perhaps we need to look at how do we help them maintain their independence. In no matter what frame of mind we find ourselves when the times comes to own up to the fact that we can no longer be that carefree 16 year old, we want to know that we are not losing out on life. We can’t, because if we do, then we give up. So looking at our seniors, what are we giving them as options in all the myriad of income levels and housing locations? When we find answers for them, we find answers for ourselves.

    • Patricia Rust says:

      I support your comment fully and think more of us need to look at this and many other social and societal concerns as our own and come up with viable solutions that bring a community together in suporting one another during the different phases of our lifes and also circumstances that arises.

  • Bert says:

    “(which Saltarski disputes) i.e. exceeding speed. How does the examiner measure speed? Looking at the car’s speedometer or a hand-held GPS unit. Saltarski may very well have been right. Did He never challange this result?

  • Bert says:

    Comments are fine BUT we need a strong, active (!) Advocacy that goes to all Canadian Government Agencies responsible for Driver Licenses and really starts a revolution on behalf of senior drivers.
    If anyone of you who may read this note ever felt sad, had a bad day, was anxious about what the next day might bring, were furious and angry with a Government minion, was troubled by how to pay the mortgage………etc…..etc. you are all MENTALLY ILL according to MENTAL HEALTH ASSESSMENT questionnaire issued by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. Try to obtain a copy and answer the questions! The physician who has to answer these question can write whatever he wants. There are no proves, there are no tests, there is no data, just “to the best of your knowledge”…..
    These questions are circulated by the Driver Improvement Office of MTO or as I call them the Office of the Inquisition

  • Suszie Queue says:

    My 86 year old mother who has Alzheimer’s, had no problem getting her listen e renewed for 2 more years even though she cannot remember what you just told her. After several fender benders, she still refuses to stop driving. Her disease makes her unaware of her own limitations. We raised our concerns with her doctor and although he confirms a diagnosis of Alzhemiers, because she scored 20 out of 25 on some simple paper driven memory test, he took no action as it concerns her driving. Even if MTO didn’t renew her licence, she won’t remember and would have likely continued t drive anyway. After her last accident, the family refused to get her car out of the body shop. Well meaning people keep settling with her outside of insurance and without reporting to the police. The family had to track down these people and inform them that it’s illegal not to report these accidents and settle with her outside of insurance. It was the family’s hoe that her insurance company would eventually stop insuring her. The whole situation is extremely frustrating for the family of Alzhemers sufferers and nobody seems to the responsible. I think the government should be road testing all seniors and start taking responsibility rather than hoping and expecting that police, doctors and family are going to solve these issues.

  • Robert says:

    I am disappointed to hear that in my home state of New Hampshire, they have eliminated the mandatory re-test for drivers age 70 or older. I will be 70 next year and I think such a test is important. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s only after she had driven somewhere and did not know how to get home. my dad was 82 when he drove too close to a pedestrian and injured her hand when his right side mirror hit her hand. his insurance premium skyrocketed ro 18 thousand dollars a year.

  • Kathleen barnes says:

    I’m an occupational therapist with two elderly parents. The key here is that I work in driver rehabilitation and I assess people’s ability to drive. My parents family doctor Does not seem to understand his role in this medical legal process. My mum has cognitive issues and my dad just had a stroke. The doctor assessed my dad telling him he thought he had a stroke last week and he let him drive home. My dad crashed the car on the left coming into the garage. He told my mum she was ok to drive despite her admitting she drove on the opposite side of the road in oncoming traffic. I feel my role is to educate him.

  • Angela says:

    Based on my own experience and work with a full age range of adults, I have found more people UNDER sixty five having their licenses yanked for various medical conditions than those over 65. In my opinion, if the Ministry wants to keep the myth going about how driving is privilege, perhaps they should finance public transit to the point it actually becomes useable and outlaws discrimination against non-drivers for jobs, unless driving is the job.

    Getting your license after thirty is impossible for many, given that you need to rely on the availability and reliability of a driver with at least four years experience behind the wheel. Not all of us have parents available or nearby. So yanking a license for a medical condition, then suddenly withdrawing the license because the person is not able to get it back in time is wrong, wrong, wrong and produces a major economic loss for that person and their family. We don’t all live in Toronto where there is good transit.

  • James Somerville says:

    Age should NEVER be a consideration without that consideration being applied to all drivers. Furthermore, drivers of ANY age with “limited driving skills” should NOT be driving anywhere that is beyond their ability and expertise. That includes new drivers who are most in their teens and 20s, in addition to older drivers of any age!

    Stop using seniors as a scapegoat and address the issue fairly.

    Also, why don’t you include in your choices a choice that simply says “No. Seniors should not be restricted” It gives the very distinct impression that you are trying to guide the answers in a particular direction.

  • Name (required) says:

    I feel that if all drivers had to show they had acceptable hearing ,vision, cognitive, medical competency every 5 years from the time they got their license, it would off set some of the onus on the family doctor and family members, and “may ” catch those with drug related issues, etc…It is a privilege
    and I say this as someone in early senior category .Retesting / like many exams is nerve-wracking, but better that than death and injury. give the person a chance to take a drivers retraining and prove competency if their license is flagged…allow for re-testing before it is revoked or has restrictions.
    If this starts when you get a license, it becomes part of the routine.
    Thank you.

  • Dr. P says:

    I think we are stuck with doctors being required to report. We could test every 5 years over a certain age but even that would be expensive and what do you do with the patient who develops the disabling condition a few months after their most recent test. The point has been made that elderly drivers are generally quite safe but some are very obviously unsafe so we cannot ignore that. We could test everybody but the problem with younger drivers is they don’t cause accidents because they lack skills but that they don’t use them. For instance drunk drivers and people who use their cellphones while driving and people who drive at excessive speed can pull up their socks and pass the test. Then they go back to driving dangerously. As a doctor my personal pet peeve is patients who I know are suspended but still drive. Legally I cannot report them to the police because of confidentiality obligations. Seems kind of crazy.

  • Fred Robson says:

    My mother is 88 and I believe she probably shouldn’t be on the road. I don’t want her or anyone else injured. Since the Ministry of Ontario won’t test her I’m going to out with her this week and see how she’s driving. A simple yearly driver’s test is all that’s needed and it would remove all the conjecture about whether they are able to drive safely or not.

  • Wilson Adewale says:

    Doctors should not be the arbiter for withdrawing seniors driving licence because non of the tests at their disposal is fool proof.At Avis and Budget car rental group, many of the part time drivers are over 80 years old and they hardly fey ail required road test. They drive every where between Toronto, Winsor and Sudbury all year round.Their accident rate is minimal, hence the company hires them.
    The ministry of transport, neurologists and road testing personnel should jointly provide published guides.
    Seniors with sound reflexes and good visions suffer depression for loss of independence especially in the winter

    • Fred Robson says:

      I agree that doctors should not have the final say Wilson. A simple yearly driver’s test, actually on the road, would remove any doubts and maybe save some innocent lives. Why is this not so obvious?

    • Catherine says:

      No doctor should have any right to have anyones drivers license taken away,seniors are picked on continusly in ontario ,go to senior drivers abused by mto and read

  • George Parsons says:

    I think older people ( over 85 ) should not drive at night or if they are becoming demented

  • Ed. Rockburne says:

    Seniors are the safest drivers on the roads, by all major statistics in Canada, U.S.A. , Europe and Australia, and have less mental and cognitive problems than those under 65 years of age. See the Canadian Alzheimers Society website, that states clearly that those under 65 years of age have 85.1% of all the mental illness, including dementia and Alzheimers disease.

    If there is going to testing, every age group should be tested, otherwise, this is raw discrimination.

  • bcd says:

    Sounds like there is a bit of a vendeta going in the medical and licensing professions against seniors…period.

  • LISA GORUK says:

    What do you do when the doctor is allowing a senior to drive? How do we get the doctor looked at my father in law has terminal cancer can’t walk half the time Is pulling over to nap when he’s driving and the family physician says he will leave it in my I’m laws discretion when the pain is too bad don’t drive? This is occurring in Burlington Ontario

  • A. Riall says:

    An 83 year old friend of the family experienced some form of kidney malfunction (don’t know the details) and was treated over several weeks as an out patient. One of the hospital doctors that was treating him said she didn’t know if he should be driving or not and told him he had to go and be tested (at a personal cost of $500+). This assessment was conducted by St. Elizabeth – Driver Assessment and the result was that he failed.
    So, an Ontario Doctor refers her patient to be assessed by a private organization at the patient’s expense ($500+) and the outcome of this assessment is recognized by the Ministry of Transportation. There are a few things about this that I find unsettling.
    a) if the medical community and the Ministry of Transport formally recognize and value this method of assessment then why is the cost of it not covered;
    b) since it is the cognitive ability of the person that is in question why expect him to assess whether he should have the $500 assessment or just give up his license?
    While this is a specialized type of driving test, it is not for the purpose of maintaining a professional or commercial license. Our senior citizens not only deserve our support but are entitled to it. They are the longest contributing members to the society we enjoy.

  • Wilton Nelson says:

    The survey questionnaire is biased I am going on 88 and having had police driving courses multiple times feel I have the capability to drive safely. My PR times are slower, admittedly but my new 2015 vehicle is equipped with blind spot passing warnings, lane deviation alerts, closing speed is too fast alert, rear view camera and lateral warnings, plus other features.

  • Dez Miklos says:

    As a driver trainer I work with a lot of seniors. They all have to be assessed on an individual basis. Some are very good, and then the other end of the spectrum is that some are really bad and are a menace. A basic road test is too short to find out if a senior is a potential hazard to him/herself and others. The most frequent faults are lack of observation such as failure to check blind spots. This then followed by unsafe left turns that are coupled with improper stopping at intersections (rolling stops). As seniors get on in age they fail to comprehend the speed of an approaching vehicle that might interfere with their right-of-way. The discussions in the doctor’s office is without the stress of being out on the road and interacting in traffic. Therefore while interviewing a senior crucial information may be missed. Sometimes I wonder if a doctor would be in the vehicle while a driver trainer such as I take a senior out on a trial run what would be the “official” verdict. This is a politically sensitive issue as politician and civil servants do not want to alienate the voting senior. Doctors run the same problem as there are high emotions are at stake. A simple solution would be that each five (5) years, at least in Ontario as driver licenses are being reissued, a mandatory test should be done to all applicants. catch the problem early and be democratic by picking on all.


    • martha Underwood says:

      told Donna I will be calling you in fall for picking up driving skills I am now 73 and the only driver in the household. and I also work so looking forward to having skills looked at and get on right track .

      • John Frith says:

        You see that even 73 year can still work and not be a problem on the road. Like to see some of the young bucks out there do the same. Some day you will be his age with luck and want to enjoy what life has to offer.

    • Gerry Goldlist says:

      I agree that everyone, regardless of age, should have a drivers test every five years. Obviously this is too expensive and impractical and we have to focus our resources on those who have multiple accidents, multiple speeding tickets and those groups in society that are more likely to have cognitive and physical disabilities. Focusing on these higher risk individuals is not a human rights issue but a safety issue.

  • Ediriweera Desapriya says:

    Mobility is an important part of our senior citizen’s overall health and quality of life. Ability to drive safely should not determine by age but by overall physical and mental health. There need to be innovative and sensible traffic safety policies to help our senior citizen and their continue safe mobility.

  • John Bauslaugh says:

    Life can be difficult for seniors. So much changes as we age. Over the years, a senior can find himself dealing with the loss of their professional life, loss through the death of a spouse, the loss of once loved homes as they downsize. Sometimes they lose their eyesight. Or their hearing. And sometimes – even when they don’t know it – they lose their ability to drive safely.

    It’s a hard thing for seniors to accept. For some, holding on to the car keys represents holding on to their autonomy and their independence. It can be a challenge for family members to confront seniors on safe driving issues. Some families report the conflict creates lasting anger and acrimony. Yet it’s not something that families, seniors – or their communities – can afford to ignore.

    Statistics show that many seniors, often without realizing it, just aren’t driving safely; and represent a huge risk both to themselves, other drivers, and pedestrians. A recent visitor to our BDD – Beyond Driving With Dignity facebook page, tells the story of an elderly aunt who had a new vehicle for just one year. In that time, she’d been in as many as 7 accidents – and yet refused to understand why objects and other cars “kept hitting her.”

    A new service in Ontario provides an answer for families who know or suspect their elderly loved one shouldn’t be driving. Instead of ignoring this important issue for fear of creating upset in the family, and continuing to allow the senior to put their own life, and the lives of others at risk, concerned family members can now contact the professionals at BDD – Beyond Driving With Dignity, Canada.

    A specially trained expert will come to your residence or other convenient location, spending one on one time with the senior. Not only is the BDD professional there to evaluate the cognitive and other skills of the elderly driver, but is also trained in a counselor role, able to help the senior transition into a life without a car by finding out transportation options that allow them to retain some independence – and allowing the senior to release what could have become a stubborn “death grip” on the keys.

    For more information, please contact :
    John Bauslaugh
    Beyond Driving With Dignity

    • Sheila Boyle says:

      I did send a reply but I am not sure it went through. Is there a cost and if so how much. Thank you

    • John Frith says:

      What you are saying in a different way call me so I can make lots of money then take your licence away.
      HA HA HE HE off to the funny farm for me.

  • Tim Leach says:

    they should be required to pass the same road and written tests annually as new drivers

  • Margaret Lundgard says:

    At age 75 a physical medical examination is required to renew a drivers license. After the examination the doctor may administer the SIMARD MD PROTOCOL, which he can then bill Alberta Health Services in excess of $200. Nothing about the test is disclosed or explained to the senior, nor is permission requested to perform such a test. People do not even know this is about dementia. Many seniors fail the SIMARD–not because they are exhibiting signs of dementia, but by the nature of the test and how it is scored. The SIMARD PROTOCOL & DriveAble Program is the most perfect marriage imaginable. After SIMARD comes DriveAble, a Private for Profit Organization that seniors are referred to and will cost hundreds of dollars paid for by the senior if they wish to keep their drivers license. If a senior cannot afford to pay each time tested (you guessed right– (no license).
    The Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Geriatric Journal, Lakehead University of Ontario, all state SIMARD MD should not be used in a clinical setting because it is not scientifically proven, is not reliable and not evidence based. The world renowned University of Monash in Australia also conducted studies on SIMARD MD and discontinued using it because it was not reliable and therefore has no value. There are also others who make the same claim. In the mean time, seniors are abused and victimized by this unjust protocol every day.
    An independent assessment of the ability to drive is needed, but has to be evidence based followed by a road test conducted by the Government of Alberta Motor Vehicle Branch which assures there is no conflict of interest involved such as DRIVEABLE that is a Private for Profit Organization. Testing should be extended to all age groups especially to those who have had multiple traffic offences and those who have caused serious injuries to others. The vast majority of fatalities and serious injury are not caused by the seniors. Statistics are available on the Alberta Department of Transportation website.

    Margaret Lundgard

    • Daisy Heisler says:

      Can I copy your article for my email or Facebook to my family in Alberta? I tried the SHARE and cancelled it because I did not want the whole article on my Facebook as all my “friends” have no need for it.

    • Marguerite says:

      While your response sounds right, it leaves out a key component, judgement. Tests are scheduled weeks and months ahead, and you are forced to take them on that day whether you feel well or not, and on road conditions you normally would chose to drive on.

      As a senior, I have the ability to stay home when I don’t feel well or up to driving. I also can chose to stay home if the weather is inclement, and I don’t feel it safe to drive. I don’t have to be out on the road everyday, and I pick and chose when I drive. There are some days when I have a cold or flue that I am not fit to be on the road, and as I am no longer working, I have the luxury of staying home in bad weather.These judgement calls are not factored into the evaluation at any level, and we are treated as if we MUST be on the road everyday, no matter what, just as we had to when we were working adults. But that’s not the case and this very important factor is being overlooked in implementing these tests.

      Better evaluations need to be developed that take all aspects into account, including a seniors option to stay home if health or weather call for it.

  • Ed. Rockburne says:

    All of this concern about senior drivers is based on the general myth that once you reach a certain age, you are incompetent and suffer from dementia, and any special testing of seniors is discrimination and without justification.
    I have spent the last two years researching this very subject, and all of the major statistics in Canada , the United States, Europe and Australia, show that the senior drivers are the safest on the roads, have less cognitive impairment than all of the other age drivers. The elderly have 14.9% cognitive impairment, while the other age groups 18 to 54 years have 85.1% impairment (stats from the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada , and the Kim Institute of Mental Health U.S.A.)
    Seniors have fewer at fault accidents, but have a high fatal results when involved in accidents, not because they were responsible for the accident, but because their aging bodies and immune systems are weaker.
    This means that the Provincial Governments are testing the drivers with the best records, and should be doing something about the drivers who are causing the accidents and deaths of seniors, those between the ages of 18 and 54 years of age, who case 85% of all accidents.
    For a complete list of all research and commentary, please go to my website, at and stand up for yourselves, this is blatant discrimination.

    Sincerely Ed. Rockburne,RCMP, Retired.

    • Vera says:

      The elderly have 14.9% cognitive impairment? The Alzheimer’s society says the rates double every 5 years, so over 85 you push to 50/50 and it goes higher than that for 90+. Maybe if you count 65 as elderly which they like to do in the stats – lump 30 years of people together you reach 14.9.

      The problem is that seniors like yourself will get every health test known to man to prolong your life – all kinds of cancer screenings, blood tests for everything BUT there is no routine cognitive testing for anybody even at ages where you have a one in two chance of having Alzheimer’s.

      My neighbour had full blown Alzheimer’s and was driving merrily around, in total denial. Locked herself out of the car every week and CAA was called, the OPP were involved when she got lost driving but they told me that their hands were tied as “getting lost is not a crime”. She locked herself out of the house at least 5 times a week and didn’t lose her licence until she got lost again and was weaving all over the road. She finally fractured her skull falling down the stairs – her doctor must have dementia to not notice it.

      Elderly people who kill you also HAVE NO CONSEQUENCES. Mr. 25 year old will get the book thrown at them, but you get a slap on the wrist the older you get. Mow down a jogger on the sidewalk, get a 1 year licence suspension and a small fine, drop one on your driveway and not notice they were on your hood, get nothing – both cases in Ontario. So I suggest you get over your ridiculous assertions.

      • John Frith says:

        Wait till you are in this age group then comment

      • noreen fenrich says:

        I already have a driver’s license. I want to write the road test to be sure I am ok to drive. Do I have to the written test also?

    • Janet says:

      Really doubt this statistic: age groups 18 to 54 years have 85.1% impairment. Something is missing here I think.
      I also think our society is far too wedded to the car and it would help all of us if a driver’s license were not seen as a medal of independence.

    • philip debay says:

      you are right on. Thanks

    • Daisy Heisler says:

      Thank you. I am of the same opinion and am just starting my fight. I have submitted my comment.

    • Lorraine Alexander says:

      Thank you. Just like travel insurance doubling at age 70..there us no magic esp in day and age we are healthy longer living longer and working well past our mid 70’s.
      Rules are archaic and sd be individual.

    • Dean says:

      I really like your opinion about elder drivers. I am on of them. I make a point to drive according to all laws and avoid night , heavy traffic and any other condition that is dangerous including bad weather etc.

    • Vic Monus says:

      Dear Sir: I came across your comments on Here is my situation: I am 86 years of age, in good health, having driven for over sixty years
      in several countries/continents with a good record. My driver’s license was revoked May 10, 2019, and
      was failed after two road tests. (My wife who is five years older is doing all our driving.) If you have any words of advice as to what options I have, I would appreciate it very much. I have decided after (7) months of not driving, to do a fresh study of the rules of the road (ie., AMA materials) and to prepare for further testing. (I feel confident and safe driving and would like to stay in practice for as long as I am given
      permission to drive.)

      Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

      Thank you, sir.

      Sincerely yours,

      Victor P. (Vic) Monus
      Calgary, AB

    • Patricia Black says:

      I enjoyed your comments, this past week I was in my first ever accident, I am 81, no health issues except for high blood pressure since I was in my 20’s, controlled with low dosage of meds, regular eye checks but no need for glasses, employed in a management position in retail handling payroll, banking etc., on my way to work encountered a barracade, snow plows were street clearing, I applied brakes, was in a snowy icy section of road, brakes didnt hold, car continued forward, I hit 3 vehicles, came to stop when var hit building, air bag did not deploy, I received hairline crack in sternum, attending doctor I had never met before actually told me “you are doing exceptionally well but you need to make other arrangements, you can no longer drive as you pose a danger to others and yourself”, I reminded her that although she could send a report to the Alberta Motor Vehicles, she had no authority to cancel anyone’s driver license. There needs to be much better guidelines/training for doctors when it comes to assessing a person’s ability to operate a vehicle, age should not be the determining factor.

  • Gerry Goldlist says:

    I hate telling anyone that they do not meet the criteria for driving vision. I feel for the doctors who have to rely on softer issues to report a driver.

    • Donna says:

      I was wondering if an eye doctor says you should not drive anymore due to vision issues eg. cataracts do they automatically contact the department of motor vehicles in my province or are they relying on trust that you will not do it? Thanks for the information. No one has explained to me how this works.

  • Virginia Miles says:

    Both my parents reached a point when they could no longer drive. My dad knew when he wasn’t safe on the road and asked me to cut up his license. My mother, on the other hand, had hers taken away. She was devastated. Even though she definitely should not have been driving because of her Alzheimer’s she was furious with the doctor and the Ministry.

    In my parents’ case, both clearly should not have been driving and thankfully they weren’t. Where it becomes much more difficult is when it’s not so cut and dry and then how should that decision be made to insure safety for all? Unfortunately we don’t have that answer yet.

  • Deborah Egan says:

    I recently went through this with my 75 year old mother. It was one of the hardest things I’ve experienced … She was so angry. Better angry than having a serious accident on the road injuring self or others. How can we frame the choice to protect self and others with dignity?

    • kathym says:

      We went through this with our mom as well. We were lucky enough her car broke down and we just made up excuses for awhile why she could not get another car. Just found out she has alzheimers but there was no way we were going to let her drive, injuring another person would be on our conscious.

  • Karin says:

    I don’t think a doctor is in the best position to judge actual driving performance. Seniors older than a certain age ( I’m not expert enough to say what age, maybe 75, certainly by 85) should be required to do a yearly driving test on the road in order to keep their license. I’m sure it’s hard to give up driving, but putting others and yourself in danger by continuing to drive when incompetent is not ethical, and would not be endorsed for any other demographic group. Driving is a privilege not a right.

    • Philip DeBay says:

      if yearly tests are administered as you say, then anyone under age 30 should be included

      • Donna says:

        I agree it is not an age issue in all cases. I am a diabetic and have found that my vision was deteriating but no one was watching me for it. I am not sure how it works in Nova Scotia but I chose to hang up the keys myself however I know I was no longer safe to drive due to repeated lows and poor vision. No one stopped me though. I had in the end to use common sense although I had never been in an accident I just knew I was no longer safe. I am not sure who would have sent a report that I should not drive if I had decided that I would keep on driving and can’t seem to find that information out so still hold my license but sold my car and do not drive anymore.

    • Winnie Reed says:

      When you get 75, please write your opinion again.

  • Rita Affleck says:

    High insurance rates for young drivers reflect their increased risk. If it is recognized that elder drivers also are in a high risk category, maybe raising insurance rates would encourage retirement from driving.
    It remains difficult to detect the worst young or old drivers given our current systems for evaluation.

    • Maria Zantinge says:

      Hello, my husband had his license revoked because it took him 3 seconds longer to do a certain test. There is a program called drive able. They will put you through similar tests, but the final descion is made with an actual driving test, with a driving instructor in the front with you and someone in the back seat who will be watching your emotions, and response time. It cost around $600. But it was worth it to see my hubby happy again. Obviously he past the drivers test. He was not computer literate.


      • Pat says:

        Hi Maria, would you be able to provide a phone number for Drive Able. Thank You

      • Dawn O’Kane-Mickelow says:

        Hi Maria,
        Could you please also send me the number for the drive able course you described?
        Warm regards,

      • Barry says:

        Iam being put in the same boat. And I don’t know why. Who can I turn to or where can I go, to have problem resolved. Barry.

  • Anmar Salman says:

    To be clear, physicians only report and administer cognitive testing. Physicians do not decide and definitely do not revoke licenses or driving privileges. Ultimately, that is the decision of the Ministry of Transport or government insurance agencies.
    While reporting a condition to the Ministry of Health could damage the patient-doctor relationship, I think the key is in effective communication with the patient. Yes patients will be unhappy and feel their independence has been taken away, but physicians need to highlight why a concern is raised and why a report is made.

    • Jaci Taylor says:

      That would be okay if the physician actually talked with the senior. The physician who suggested my father’s license be revoked has not been very informative about anything to do with the situation. Not all Dr’s are saints. Some have a God complex

      • John Doe says:


        A Doctor in Colorado, He’s absolutely full of himself and will do what is needed (if he doesn’t like you) to make your life hell! He’ll lie in his reports, lie to the staff, lie to the DMV, lie about everything! He’ll even bill you on days he didn’t see you and lie about that!!

      • Marguerite says:

        You are so right in your response! I nearly had mine revoked and I did not hear a word about it until I was contacted by the DMV. I went through a very arduous test and did so well the examiners during the 2 day administration of brutal tests could not see why I was even there. The results are that I will not face annual testing and may not need to ever again, unless there is an actual decline and need.

        My relationship with my doctor however, is now strained and I have lost all trust in her and the Quebec medical community that also likes to get their noses into everything, as well as gain control. I know my distrust may eventually put me at risk, but I would rather chose the way I live and die rather than let some medical bureaucrat or other do gooder make decisions for me and come up with something far less than satisfactory for my life.

    • John Frith says:

      Yes a doctor can take away your drivers licence just by writing a letter to MOT he has the power and the option to do so or not.

  • Anton Hart says:

    %featured%My driver’s license was recently revoked by a student doctor under supervision by a physician I had never met before and was substituting for my regular physician at an academic hospital. I was angry. I am angry.%featured%

    • Gerry says:

      I know the feeling…a doctor actually told me he’d perform an MTO medical exam package, so I could take this heavy equipment operator’s course and get a job…that was 1987. He lied to the MTO, he lied to me, he lied to everybody…as a result, I STILL have a suspended driver’s license, and cannot get hired anywhere. Thank God for welfare. I am livid, and I seriously want to see that doctor piece of crud dead.


Wendy Glauser


Wendy is a freelance health and science journalist and a former staff reporter with Healthy Debate.

Michael Nolan


Michael Nolan has served Canadians through many facets of Paramedic Services.  He is currently the Director and Chief of the Paramedic Service for the County of Renfrew and strategic advisor to Healthy Debate

Christopher Doig


Christopher is a Professor in the Departments of Critical Care Medicine, Community Health Sciences, and Medicine at Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary.

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