Aging drivers a concern for Ottawa’s planners and cops

Wayne Montgomery plans on driving “until I die.”

The Kanata resident said he’s in good health and enjoys cruising so much, getting his licence revoked would be devastating.

Montgomery was one of about 30 people attending Shifting Gears, an information session for drivers 55 and older, at Ben Franklin Place on Friday.

“It was interesting to be reassured that the things that I do, the ways that I operate, are within the guidelines that they recommend,” said Montgomery.

Things such as managing distractions and devices, planning your route, driving during the day, and avoiding medications which may cause drowsiness.

“As a driver, your first responsibility is to pay attention to what’s happening on the road,” Ottawa Police Sgt. Jim Mulligan from the traffic escort unit told the crowd.

An estimated 4.1 million Ontarians will be older than 65 by 2036.

In three years, seniors will outnumber children under 14 for the first time, according to the province’s projections.

The aging population is being considered as part of the city’s transportation master plan, said Bay. Coun. Mark Taylor, “right down to the calculation — how many trains are we going to need? Well, that’s going to depend upon how fast we can get people on and off,” he said.

There are a number of considerations for aging drivers, “whether it be health, flexibility, pharmaceutical considerations as well, how that affects your awareness on the road,” said Todd Beavis from CAA North & East Ontario.

Teaming up with Safer Roads Ottawa, “basically, we’re looking to make that transition easier for the elderly,” he said.

Participants learned about legislation, alternative forms of transportation and medical tips from a pharmacist.

“Everybody knows that boomer generation is getting older day by day, and the population is quite large, so we want to make sure that we’re addressing those needs,” said Beavis.

David Smith from Orléans said he learned a few things.

“The closer we get to 80, the closer we are to having to have this mandatory test, so that’s a concern,” said Smith.

Drivers over 80 must renew their licence every two years, as per ministry guidelines.

“There’s a lot of people on the road that shouldn’t be,” said Smith.


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