Drivers over 70, who are charged with any offence or lose any points are being asked to take a driving test. I thought it was drivers over 80. When was this established? — Mary
If you're an ordinary Ontario driver who's 70 or over, you have to take a road test after a ticket — but only if you've been in an at-fault crash.
Regulation 340/94, section 16 of the Highway Traffic Act requires a road test starting at 70 for drivers "convicted of an offence related to an at-fault traffic collision," Ontario's Ministry of Transportation (MTO) spokesman Ajay Woozageer said in an email statement.
"Simply being charged is not enough to trigger the requirements of the program," Woozageer said. "The threshold required to test a driver 70 and over is a conviction, this is the triggering event."
Here's how it works: Let's say, for example, that you're 73, you hit another car and are convicted of not stopping at a red light. To keep your licence, you'd have to pass a vision test, a knowledge test and a G2 driver's test — including the road portion.
If you're licensed to drive a heavy truck, bus, or ambulance, the rules are stricter — in that case, you could have to take a road test if you get more than two demerits. And, it starts at 65.
The 70 and over rule is no spring chicken — it's been around, unchanged, since 1936, Woozageer said. Ontario's the only province with this rule.
As we're all staying healthier longer than we were nearly 80 years ago, why is the cut off still 70?
From 2002-2011 in Ontario, drivers 70 and over had an at fault fatal collision involvement rate that was about one and a half times higher than drivers under 70, Woozageer said.
"The research also shows that due to their physical frailty, drivers age 70 years and over are more likely to be killed or injured, even in low impact collisions that do not result in serious injuries among younger drivers," Woozageer says.
Carol Libman, with the senior's advocacy group CARP, says 70 is an arbitrary cutoff.
"We're not really in favour of that — if a 71-year-old gets in an accident with a 69-year-old, what's the difference?" Libman says. "People will get into accidents at different ages and get fined, their insurance rates will go up — they may have to take a driving test at any age."
But what about the stats?
"There are all kinds of statistics out there — we've found a whole bunch of others," Libman says.
Once you hit 80 in Ontario, you have to retest every two years. That includes two tests to measure cognitive ability.
Libman says the test isn't difficult to pass — but she says people don't automatically lose the ability to drive at a certain age. She says older drivers have the benefit of experience. Plus, they don't text and aren't usually in a rush.
"We're not talking about medical conditions — medical conditions can keep you from driving at any age," Libman says. "We've found, generally speaking, that older people self-regulate — as they get older, they don't go out when it's snowing or when it's dark."
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