Duncan location now available for DriveABLE assessments

There's finally some good news for Cowichan residents — particularly seniors — who have been pushing for a DriveABLE assessment location in the valley rather than driving to Victoria.

The provincial government announced Wednesday the addition of nine new service centres, including Duncan.

The office is located at CBI Health Centre at No. 204-149 Ingram St.

A spokeswoman with the Ministry of Justice said the site is open now and available for clients who've been referred to take a DriveABLE assessment. But she stressed people can't walk in off the street to have an assessment done.

The normal procedure must be followed with referrals from a medical practitioner to the office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles.

DriveABLE assessments differ from the driver medical examination reports that all drivers must complete with their medical practitioner at age 80 and every two years afterward. The Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles refers drivers with cognitive function concerns, as reported in most cases by their physician, to take a DriveABLE assessment.

Now that assessment can be done in Duncan.

"It's about time,'' said Ann Dusseault, an advocate for easier access to the testing.

"It's a huge thing. It'll make it so much easier for our people.''

Taking the assessment in Victoria in unfamiliar surroundings never made sense to Dusseault when many elderly drivers never go there.

"They go from their little apartments to the grocery store of the doctors and back home again,'' she said.

"That being the case, I would assume they'd be allowed to use their own cars. Now if we can just get rid of that stupid thing called a computer test.''

Many changes and other improvements for the program are in the works, but whether the computer test is one of them remains to be seen.

"We have worked closely with seniors organizations to find ways to minimize the stress that some seniors experience throughout the process,'' said Shirley Bond, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, said in a statement.

"While a very small number of seniors actually require the DriveABLE assessment, we will continue to look for ways to improve service, expand location and provide information to families when a cognitive assessment is required.''

Of the 140,000 driver medical examination reports reviewed by the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicle in 2011, the Ministry of Justice indicates two % — or about 2,700 drivers — were referred for a DriveABLE assessment in 2011. The figures were 130,000 driver medicals and 1,500 DriveABLE assessments the year before.

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