This is another blog post on Elder Law, such for seniors and their families, particularly spouses, adult children, caregivers, etc. Today’s subject is the “SENIOR DRIVER.” It’s the 2nd of a mini series, going beyond the revocation and/or suspension of a driving license, but addressing such topics as the renewal of the driving license of an older person, the driver’s license review process (encompassing a medical exam, vision test, senior driving test), the issuance of a restricted driving permit, etc.
Vol. 11, #14.2 – Oct. 14, 2019–ALLAN GOLD’S BLOG
SAAQ/MTO/DMV: SENIOR DRIVER’S LICENSE ISSUES CONT’D (Part 2)
I’m so pleased that you rejoined the convoy of senior drivers wanting to learn more about issues regarding the driving license of an older person. It’s a lot more problematic than potholes and harder to avoid. In this installment, I will deal with two more reported cases. And I will then follow that up with a commentary as to why it’s so difficult emotionally to deal with the situation of an aged driver. So buckle up and here we go!
B.1 MORE CASES.
2. 90-Year-Old Male Driver in Montreal, Quebec. On Monday, February 5, 2018, there was a report of CTV Montreal titled, “A 44-year-old mother was killed and her five-year-old son critically injured when hit by a car in the parking lot of a shopping center – Village Montpellier – on Sunday afternoon.”
Circumstances of accident: It involved a man in his 90’s, waiting for someone inside the shopping center. As per the facts, he was the driver of the car, which started to roll forward. It was further reported that he “…could scarcely remember what happened in the moments leading up to the fatal collision.” He was not injured or taken to hospital after the accident. Although police did not officially announce that the man’s age factored in the accident – it had some critics questioning whether there should be a workable age limit for drivers.
3. 97-Year-Old Female Driver from Saint-Nazaire-d’Acton, Quebec.
Circumstances of accident: In a newspaper article of Saturday, June 9, 2018 titled, “97-year-old Quebec woman dies in driving accident,” Peter Rakobowchuk (of Canadian Press) reported that a woman from Saint-Nazaire-d’Acton was driving her Chevrolet Aveo in neighboring Saint-Eugène when it overturned and ended up in a ditch. She died, having suffered a snapped vertebrae in her neck. Excessive speeding did not appear to be a factor. Instead, it was determined that the probable cause was a deer or an animal crossing in front and causing her to swerve.
Commentaries: The article included several interesting factual statements. First, Madeleine Major, 71, the niece of the deceased, said that her aunt once told her, “As long as I have my sight, as long as the Good Lord gives me permission to drive, it’s my happiness (and) I don’t ask for more in life than that.” Second, Mme. Major stated that her aunt had no prior ill-health reason, which had necessitated the stoppage of her driving. Indeed, the deceased was apparently in very good health and had no problems with her heart or lungs. In fact, the coroner, i.e., Yvon Garneau had called to tell her that the victim “did not have a heart attack…. died instantly and did not suffer….” (Source:https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2018/06/09/97-year-old-quebec-woman-dies-in-driving-accident.html)
B.2 LET’S CUT THROUGH EMOTIONAL CLUTTER.
When answering the question whether or not, an older person should still be driving a motor vehicle, emotion nearly always, gets in the way. Let’s analyze this!
It’s hard for the senior driver!
It’s an every day occurrence when Canadian motorists impassively open correspondence from the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) or the equivalent department of motor vehicles (DMV) of another Canadian province/territory. However, in the instance of a mature driver, the initial feeling might be one of trepidation. You see, they might think that the letter contains a demand requiring something new and extra about the renewal of his/her driving license. If it does, their demeanor would likely then turn to one of negative surprise. It may even provoke a little shriek of dismay, “This is another way “Big Brother” needlessly pesters us little people.” But such would probably give way to great concern on realizing that what comes next might jeopardize his/her continuing to hold an unlimited license to drive. And if and when, being notified that the SAAQ/MTO (or the DMV having jurisdiction) is lifting his/her driver’s license, the addressee, now incredulous, could become combative and yell, “I object and I vow to fight this injustice until ‘the cows come home.’
In order to dissect this reaction, we should start with the dislike felt by all of us when we’re told what to do and what not to do. Next, more on topic, in response to one or more written demands of the SAAQ/MTO (or the DMV having jurisdiction), which could result in making us a non-driver, we might plead, “Why is this happening to me. I’ve been driving all my life and there’s no cause for me to stop now.” In support, we might speak with great pride of having NIL demerit points, this due to moving (non parking) violations being few and far between. And we may also point to a clean record, (just about accident/claim free), with an auto insurance company. But should circumstances be such that we’re given a restricted driving permit, no one would be a ‘happy camper.’ Of course, it’s perfectly natural for us to be resistant to restrictions of any form being imposed. But on receiving a letter going all the way to lifting one’s driver’s license altogether, one would probably find this quite devastating. This is because such represents the suppression of a legal privilege, long taken for granted. But more, it also entails a (a) Loss of (i). Mobility from place to place; and (ii). Independence, since we must now rely on others; (b) Need to develop greater patience, this resulting from being obliged to wait on a family member, friend or a taxi-patient transport driver, etc.
It’s also very difficult for relatives and friends!
It’s even worse when a (close) relative or friend must tell a mature driver that he/she must stop driving. The automatic push back would tend to create much friction, never mind, the possibility of damaging the relationship. If it’s an adult child, watch out – the fireworks will likely start big time! You see, it’s not just that the elderly is unhappy about not driving any longer, but he/she also objects to someone to whom, he/she has given directions-instructions in the past, now telling him/her how it’s going to be from hereon out. Of course, this is really tough to take! Indeed, a close relative or friend needs to tread carefully and deal with this matter in a sensitive way.
It’s best for the mature driver to hand over the keys voluntarily!
In view of the foregoing, it’s so much better for all concerned when the mature driver decides on his/her own and willingly stops driving. Of course, this is in keeping with the sentiment arising from the statement, “I’ve been making decisions all my life and I don’t see why this has to change now.” But more, the surrender of a driver’s license shows comprehension of several really good reasons to do so.
- He/she is older and the senses are not as sharp as they once were. He/she may be suffering from one or more maladies or diseases or have a medical condition, etc. As a result, he/she may not be well enough to get behind the wheel. Indeed, it may be dangerous to his/her well-being to continue to drive. Of course, self preservation should prompt us to do anything and everything in order to stay safe!
- He/she also doesn’t want to hurt others. If there’s a risk that his/her driving might pose a danger to the public, then he/she needs to stop. Indeed, he/she must take the high road and do the right thing for our collective security.
So driving a car is yet another area of concern arising from old age. I hope that the cited cases strike a chord. If a senior driver, you might now be able to see the light and get beyond the emotion. If dealing with a loved one, you may now be better informed in order to broach this very touchy subject. But please keep your radio dial on this station and stay tuned. There’s even more to come!*
D. PREVIEW OF NEXT IN THE ELDER LAW BLOG SERIES. I believe that with this blog series on elder law, I may have started you along the way to being more aware of elder law. Today, I continued on with the subject of the aged driver. Next time, I’ll briefly review a few of the rules. Interested? Want to get more information about the current topic, retirement planning, or other areas of elder law written by an “avocat,” one of the family law lawyers, family lawyers Montreal, practicing in the elder law field? See you next time. It won’t take too much time. Remember my byline – it’s “Gold’s Legal Minute*GLM*!” And don’t forget to join my professional community by entering your e-mail at the prompt. *
E. NOTICE – CAUTION –DISCLAIMER. The material provided herein is of a general nature, strictly for informational purposes. The interpretation and analysis is not to be misapplied to a personal situation with a particular set of facts. Under no circumstances, are the herein suggestions and tips, intended to bring a reader to the point of acting or not acting, but instead, the hope is that they are to be a cause for pause and reflection. It is specifically declared that this content is not to be a replacement of, or a substitution for, legal or any other appropriate advice. To the contrary, for more information on these presents, related subjects or any other questions, it is the express recommendation of the author that everyone seek out and consult a qualified professional or competent adviser.
* ©/TM 2019, 2015-2018, Allan Gold, Practitioners’ Press Inc. – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED