Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Keeping' Seniors on the Move!
Edited July 29, 2019: We understand that with a driver's license can come a feeling of autonomy, independence, a certain freedom, and often great joy. It doesn't matter if you're 16, 46 or 86 - the feelings are so often the same. The difference is that at 46 - we take it for granted that we are fit and allowed to drive. Not-so-much at 16 or 86 though.

But the issue isn't about age - it's about safety. It's ALL about safety. The safety of the drivers, their passengers, and of the people in our bike lanes, on the sidewalks and crosswalks.

As we age our faculties can deteriorate - some more than others. As well, sickness can affect anyone at any time. Many people are able to drive a car safely until they are at a ripe old age, while other's abilities are more fickle and fleeting - for all sorts of reasons.

It is essential that our communities have a way to determine who is safe to drive, and who is not so that we can keep our roads safe for everyone to enjoy.

That's where the Enhanced Road Assessment comes in. It is our society's tool for checking in on people's medical fitness to drive.

If you're reading this it's likely that you or someone you care about has received a letter from RoadSafetyBC asking that a Enhanced Road Assessment be completed within a specific time frame. Referrals to the ERA are not only made on the basis of a driver's age; drivers of any age may be asked to complete an ERA. 

That letter can be scary for some. 

That's why, on July 23, 2019, we brought together our friends at ICBC's Drive Safety program to talk to the community about what they can expect from the Assessment, and how best to navigate it.

The topic seems to be a hot one as almost 100 community members come out to the Church of the Nazarene FiresideRoom for our informal afternoon to hear all about the ERA. The wonderful Colleen Woodger, ICBC's Community Road Safety Coordinator, an expert at providing educational resources
Almost 100 in attendance!
and all things RoadSafety, along with her colleague a road tester specialist Brett Kettler gave a great presentation and Q&A.

The two greeted all the attendees handing them some literature and welcoming them to the event. You can find the hand-outs HERE. They explained the difference between what was once a 'test' - and is now an 'Assessment' as well as  offering tips and pointers on preparing for and taking the assessment.

The ERA is a 90-minute process that involves a pre-trip vehicle orientation, two 20-minute driving sessions with a feedback component half-way through so you can improve and correct some areas that you might have not done your best on, and then a post-trip review. The assessment is conducted in a passenger vehicle provided by the driver and there's no computerized testing element or parallel parking at all! The car should be in good working order (no check-engine lights or cracks in the windshield).

Brett Kettler & Colleen Woodger from ICBC's RoadSafetyBC
The two spoke of how important it is to be at your best for the session, suggesting that you reschedule if you're suffering from a cold, a kink in your neck, or even a sleepless night. They went over some basic rules of the road and advised that even if you've been driving for years (or maybe especially if you have) brushing up on the rules of the road before the assessment is a good idea.

Colleen cited things like rolling stops (California stops), shoulder-checking and bike lane navigation as areas that would be wise to go over before the assessment. Make sure you come to a full stop at the stop line, check for pedestrians and bikes, and then inch forward. Make sure you give as full a shoulder-check as you - again paying special attention to possible cyclists and pedestrians.

Brett suggested going over to the testing station area at Bordon and McKenzie to check it out ahead of time so there's no surprises come assessment day. The area has new bike lanes, a three-way stop / bike lane intersection, a traffic circle, as well as playground and school zones. It's got it all.

Susan Sowden from BC Transit
Colleen suggested going to the ICBC website to find resources that may help you decide if and who to enlist should you or the examiner feel that you would benefit from a refresher course. There are three local ICBC-approved driving schools listed. You can find out more HERE.

We were fortunate to have BC Transit's Susan Sowden on hand to share some fabulous info on just how accommodating handyDART is! Did you know that you can book an appointment to have handyDART driver come with you to buy a scooter - so you can make sure that it fits onto the bus before you buy it! They will also come around to your home so you can practice getting on the bus with your scooter a few times when the bus is not on shift! What incredible service! Find out more HERE.

Cst. Andrea Toombes & Lana
It was wonderful to see Constable Andrea Toombs from Saanich Police and Jim Pullman of Unifor Local 333-BC stop in. We also had surprise guest Steve Wallace from Wallace's Driving School pop onto the mic and offer a couple great tips for preparing for your medical exam (DMER). He suggested that you bring with you a recent driver's abstract (free from the ICBC website HERE) and your insurance papers showing whatever discount you may be enjoying in your licensed vehicle.

We've done a post on the DMER and the fees charged by local clinics - which seem to vary quite a bit. You can find that post  HERE.

The afternoon included tea and coffee and the amazing baking of my Constituency Assistant Maureen - which was very popular!

If you were there I hope you found it as interesting and informative as I did. Sending a huge thank you to all the wonderful people that came - and that helped make it happen. It was such a great afternoon!

We'll be hosting another ERA info session next year. Sign up for our email updates HERE - so we can keep you in the loop!