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What To Do When Someone Shouldn’t Be Driving

You may find yourself, one day, in the awkward position of knowing someone who is driving but shouldn’t be behind the wheel. These drivers tend to be close to us and a lot of the time the issue regarding their safety comes down to age or health issues that are known to impact things like vision, response times, and motor skills. You may also know of someone who drives without insurance or a valid licence, or maybe you’ve done that yourself before! Sometimes it can be a matter of friends, family, or even strangers getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.

These can be uncomfortable and awkward moments, so we’ve put together some helpful information on how to handle these situations.


Senior Drivers

RoadSafetyBC has estimated that the average lifespan now allows us to live to 10 years longer than our ability to drive safely. However, it’s important to note that age alone isn’t what determines a driver to be dangerous on the road. Out of the approximately 180,000 required medical examinations in 2019, only around 66,000 were found to be seniors.

Regardless of age, if someone you know is suffering from a medical condition that has effects or side effects that will put themselves and others on the road at risk, you should consider reporting them. RoadSafetyBC will take a report from anyone with direct knowledge of a driver’s inability to drive, however, they also require that anyone who reports a driver be willing to identify themselves so that they are properly able to verify the report. As difficult as it may be to do this to a friend or family member, remember that mandatory medical exams for drivers don’t begin until age 80 unless an issue has been identified before then. In the worst case scenario a loved one could end up getting into an accident long before then, depending on the severity of their condition. For an idea of what will be covered, the criteria for mandatory medical driver exams can be found in the CCMTA’s Medical Standards with BC Specific Guidelines and you can also find information about the entire process online too.

When it comes to age, a good way to put minor concerns to rest is to see if you can convince your loved one to have their driving skills reassessed by a nearby driving school. At Valley, our instructors will go through the process of reassessment with your loved one respectfully and let you both know what the results indicate at the end. We make sure that seniors feel comfortable with the driving assessment process, and won’t push them too far out of their comfort zone. If finances are tight and a driving school assessment is not an option, class 5 and 6 road tests are free to those aged 65 or older so you can reach out and see about booking a reassessment with them instead. Make sure that you’ve discussed the possible outcomes of an ICBC reassessment, as this may result in the driver losing their licence if the road test is unsuccessful.

Even with a successful road test, there are some restrictions that RoadSafetyBC or ICBC could place on a driver’s licence afterwards. Some common restrictions include: driving only during daylight hours, automatic transmission use only, speed limit restrictions, specified vehicle modification requirements, or hearing aid and corrective lens requirements. ICBC restrictions are often imposed after a knowledge test, road test, signs, or signal test has been completed, while RoadSafetyBC steps in when medical conditions or functional deficits require that the driver use a device or technology to safely operate their motor vehicle. When RoadSafetyBC is involved for a person’s medical fitness, the road test that must be taken is called an Enhanced Road Assessment. They list the possible restrictions, as well as information on having them reconsidered or removed, on their website for easy accessibility.


Driving Without Insurance or a Licence

It will be difficult to know if someone is driving without insurance or a licence, but there are hefty fines and penalties associated with breaking this law and sometimes just being aware of the consequences is enough to change someone’s behaviour. While driving without insurance won’t cost you any penalty points, there is a fine of almost $600, and driving without a drivers licence will incur 3 penalty points plus a fine of almost $300.

In addition to the fines and penalty points associated with driving without insurance or a licence, there are also serious consequences if you are in a collision. ICBC can deny payment for any claims that you put forth, no matter what happened in the collision and who’s fault it was. This means that if you are looking for a payment to recoup a damaged or totaled vehicle, or if you are looking for a payment for medical or injury costs, you could wind up with nothing.


Drivers Under the Influence

You may also find yourself having to handle a driver that you know is under the influence, and is making the decision to drive. This can be someone you know, who you have watched become intoxicated and then decide to drive, or a stranger that you spot about to make a bad decision. If it’s someone who hasn’t yet gotten behind the wheel, try and persuade them to not drive. Offer to find them another ride or call them a rideshare, even if this means confiscating their car keys for the night or calling another friend or family member to help you. They may not feel gracious towards you at the time, but stepping in and avoiding having them drive drunk or drugged will lead to a heartfelt thank you when they’ve sobered up.

In the event that you witness someone who is already driving under the influence, or if you cannot convince someone to not drive themselves, it is always recommended that you contact local police. Do your best to provide their vehicle description, license plate number, and general direction or destination, if known. If it’s possible, safely follow behind the impaired driver until law enforcement arrives. Some common signs that a driver is under the influence are weaving or zig-zagging across the road, almost striking an object, curb, or other vehicle, stopping without cause or erratic braking, driving much slower than the posted speed limit, and making abrupt or sudden maneuvers.

If you do follow an impaired driver, make sure that you stay safe! Don’t try to pass them or get their attention - you could put yourself or others at risk.

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While these are certainly not easy situations to navigate by any means, they tend to be ones that have serious consequences. So, when you’re feeling heavy with the discomfort of reporting someone in, consider how you would feel if that person ended up in an accident as a result of the inability to safely operate their vehicle.

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"A special “Thank You” to you. From what I was told, you never let my daughter put her guard down. Good for you.

I appreciate all the hard work and dedication you’ve given to my daughter. I will recommend Valley Driving School to as many people as I can.

Again, “Thank You” to everyone. Who knows…maybe my daughter will be back for other types of drivers training ie: motorcycle, standard, or even semi-trucks. Could happen. She ‘loves’ to drive.  

Best regards"

~Cyndy

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