Ontario’s transportation minister expects drivers with dementia will face tough new rules within the year.
The province’s aging population — with an increase is cognitively impaired drivers — will make road safety a “top priority,” said transportation minister Bob Chiarelli.
“I think we need to accelerate our attention to it,” Chiarelli said in an interview.
“I believe we are doing that and I would be surprised if in the next six months to a year we didn’t initiate some enhancements to it.”
In the wake of a Star series on drivers with cognitive impairment, Chiarelli predicted there will be a “tightening across the board” of the system that allows many seniors with dementia to drive unchecked.
The ministry is considering making the following changes: better training for family doctors on reporting cognitively impaired patients who drive; more rigorous on-road testing of senior drivers; and the introduction of graduated licensing for some seniors who, like teenage drivers, would not be allowed to drive at night or on 400-series highways.
Ontario is one of the last jurisdictions in North America that has not embraced “degraduated licences” for seniors. This would put limits on seniors with diminished eyesight in the dark or nerves that can’t handle highway speeds.
In the interview, Chiarelli said he has heard both good and bad things about that approach but is open to exploring it here.