Tuesday March 20, 2012

BC Politics

The Hue and Cry

NDP says BC Liberal amendments to DriveABLE a band aid

Submitted by Ed May, NDP Caucus


oday's announcement that the Liberals will make changes to the DriveABLE seniors' driver testing system is another example of the government being forced to acknowledge problems and mismanagement, say the New Democrats.

New Democrat public safety critic Kathy Corrigan was responding to an announcement that the government will finally make some changes to the controversial program that tests the driving skills of seniors.

"Opposition MLAs have worked with seniors in communities throughout B.C. to identify problems with the DriveABLE system and seek solutions. But as with so many issues, there has to be a huge public outcry before the Liberals act to fix very real problems," said Corrigan. "B.C. seniors have been through a lot of anxiety waiting for the Liberals to take action."

The details of the announcement are still unclear, however, government has said there will be a few more testing locations and some seniors will be given an alternative testing option to the controversial computer testing system.

Corrigan said the proposed changes seem quite modest given the scope of the complaints raised in constituencies across the province.

"The Liberals threw a system in place that wreaked havoc on communities all over B.C.," said Corrigan. "I'm not sure the band-aid they placed on the system today will be the fix that's needed."

"As more details emerge, we'll see if the changes are too modest to make a real difference," said Corrigan. "It would really sell our seniors short if this announcement is more an exercise in communications than an attempt to make seniors' driving tests fair and reasonable."


NDP Chilliwack-Hope candidate told The Voice in an e-mail Tuesday that some seniors don't know that the test is actually being conducted until after the fact.


"It discusses the need for mobile service, which was also raised during the town hall meeting," wrote O'Mahony. "The COSCO rep said that people often times are not aware that they are being tested for cognitive function by their doctor. They go in for one reason and then find themselves heading to a DriveABLE test. Hopefully issues of dignity and respect are also being taken into consideration as the government evaluates DriveABLE. Also, this release doesn't address the issues with using a computer. Most of the 80 years olds present at the town hall meeting indicated that they aren't familiar with computers."

Corrigan said the loss of a driver's license can be a devastating loss of independence for many drivers.

"While we support driver testing when there is evidence that a driver's ability to drive safely has become compromised, we believe it is imperative to hold both the contractor and the government to account to ensure the test is a fair and accurate measurement of drivers' cognitive abilities."

Corrigan said the official opposition and the public have been asking the Liberals to provide scientific evidence to support DriveABLE as the best system available. "Either no such evidence exists, or the Liberals refuse to release it," said Corrigan.

Adrian Dix and the New Democrats have heard the many concerns of seniors, most recently at a DriveABLE town hall on March 15 where over 150 people came to discuss their concerns. New Democrats hosted similar town halls in the Cowichan Valley and the Sunshine Coast with equally large showings.


Copyright (c) 2012 The Valley Voice