Over the last two weeks, the Saskatchewan Safety Council has been holding a number of Mature Driver Refresher Courses throughout the province, with one recently taking place in Arcola.
In BC and Ontario, medical exams are required for drivers 80 years or older, and in Alberta, medical reviews or examinations start at 75 years or older. Newfoundland, Quebec, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut all have similar programs as well, but not in Saskatchewan.
Right now, SGI does not have any mandatory medicals or mandatory retesting, but they do have other processes in place for medically at-risk drivers. It is mandatory, however, that under the traffic safety act, that health practitioners report drivers they feel should not be or are at medical risk to be driving, at any age, whether it be 15 or 100. They also rely on law enforcement, driver instructors, and drivers themselves to report drivers medical conditions that could put them at risk.
According to Leann Nixon, who works for SGI's Medical Review Unit, there are a number of things that mature drivers and others should look for when it comes to whether or not they should be driving.
"Maybe getting into a car-crash or mild fender benders, getting lost while driving, having near misses with other vehicles or other people honk at you while you're driving and confusing the gas and the brake pedals," Nixon explained.
Nixon also recommends regular eye check-ups, physician visits, checking any medications, never driving while tired or drowsy, and making adjustments to driving patterns in heavy traffic or busy intersections.
It may also seem that mature drivers are one of the more at risk age groups, but seniors only accounted for 16 auto fatalities in 2017 and 431 injuries. In total, there were 100 fatalities and 4,608 injuries in Saskatchewan in 2017.
"I think as you ask around there may be that stigma that older drivers are not as good drivers and get into collisions," she said. "However, they do drive less, we do know that they do drive less than other drivers and that the collision rate is low in Saskatchewan."
"I have heard the comments about the older drivers and that is really why SGI hasn't brought in mandatory medicals or mandatory re-testing because we feel that we don't want to paint every driver with the same brush because somebody at age 40 could be more medically at risk than somebody at age 80."
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