Unlike some other jurisdictions, SGI (Saskatchewan Government Insurance) does not automatically evaluate drivers at a certain age. Generally speaking, anyone who holds a valid Saskatchewan driver’s licence may renew their licence every year without taking a test. The age of the individual does not make a difference unless they are experiencing difficulties with driving due to age or medical issues.
As individual’s age there are changes to strength, agility and mental abilities that can affect reaction times and attention spans. Older drivers, as well as other drivers, are required by law to report any significant changes to their health that may affect their ability to drive. Many health care professionals, such as doctors, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists and optometrists, must also report patients that have conditions that could make it unsafe for them to drive. Other individuals may notify SGI if they have concerns about an older person’s ability to drive.
Drivers who come to the attention of SGI may be required to undergo an assessment. Older drivers who, themselves, want to evaluate their driving abilities may also participate. Depending on the outcome of the assessment, the individual could have restrictions placed on their driver’s license. For example, the driver may be restricted to driving within a certain radius from home. If a driver’s night vision is poor, they may be restricted to driving during daylight hours. Adaptive equipment, techniques or additional training may also be recommended. If SGI believes that these measures are not enough to ensure the public’s safety, a driver’s license may be cancelled altogether.
There are many strategies that can help older adults stay safe on the road. First and foremost older adults and their families need to recognize the limitations that may accompany aging. It is important to understand the effects of different medications. Older drivers may need to determine whether the vehicle they normally drive is still a “good fit” for them and whether there are modifications available to address problem areas.
When aging may be affecting your driving skills discussing these matters with other family members and health professionals can help you find solutions that work for you and keep everyone safe.
SGI’s The Mature Driver publication includes tools to help drivers assess their driving practices and provides tips to improve everyone’s safety.
The Saskatchewan Safety Council offers courses designed to help older drivers refresh their driving skills and stay safely behind the wheel longer. The courses are free-of-charge and include a self-evaluation, information about the aging process and how it can impact driving abilities, as well as suggestions for making the necessary adaptations and adjustments.
The Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists provides helpful tips to help older adults stay safe on the road. Their site also includes specialized information for driver’s with Alzheimer’s or diabetes, or driving after suffering a stroke. The material is available in a number of languages including French, Italian, Punjabi and Chinese.
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