OMA supports limited driver's licence for elderly
Last Updated Thu, 07 Mar 2002 12:09:25

TORONTO - An official with the Ontario Medical Association says he likes the idea of a graduated driver's licensing system for seniors.

The OMA's Dr. Ted Boadway was testifying Wednesday at the coroner's inquest into the death of Beth Kidnie. Two years ago, the mother of three was hit by a car driven by an 84-year-old woman and dragged for nearly one kilometre. The driver, Pilar Hicks, said she wasn't aware of what she had done.

The inquest is looking at issues surrounding older people and their ability to drive. A graduated licensing program would be similar to one already in place for young drivers in the province. They're issued a permit with restrictions that are gradually removed. Boadway, executive director of health policy for the OMA, said telling elderly patients they shouldn't be driving is a nightmarish ordeal for many doctors. He said it "bedevils" many doctors to try to determine a patient's ability to drive. Boadway said the legislation that requires doctors to report unfit drivers to the Ministry of Transportation is unworkable. It's so broadly worded that physicians are unable to comply, he said.

Boadway said he's worked with the provincial government for six years to amend the legislation but nothing has happened, a problem he called frustrating. When asked if the OMA would want a role to play in developing a graduated licence system for older adults Boadway responded "yes".

Hicks' family doctor testified on Tuesday that she was medically fit to drive and had no cognitive impairment. Hicks was convicted of criminal negligence causing death and received a 15-month conditional sentence. She was also forbidden from driving again.

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Written by CBC News Online staff