Alberta’s Elder Advocates group says senior drivers are being unfairly subjected to a test they are designed to fail.

When seniors in Alberta turn 75, they are required to get a physical and may be asked by their doctors to take a cognitive assessment. If they fail, doctors can order a $250 dollar computerized test called DriveAble. 

DriveAble is a test that developers say was created for the purpose of eliminating unfair age-related mandatory testing. The test measures cognitive abilities, including mental reaction time, spatial judgment, short-term working memory and ability to shift attention.

DriveAble test

The DriveAble test, shown here, is designed to be intentionally stressful. (CBC News)

Bill Bland, vice president of business development for DriveAble, says the test is intentionally stressful.

“We want to stress you cognitively,” Bland said. “We want to ensure that when that event happens on the road, you make the right choice and are safe.”

Ruth Adria, the executive officer of Elder Advocates of Alberta, says driving is essential for many seniors.

But she says too many seniors lose their licences because of DriveAble, a test she calls unfair and unjust.

“That’s a computer based test,” Adria said. “Now many older people don’t bother with computers and when they fail that, they don’t have a licence.”

Adria acknowledges there are people that should not be driving, but adds they are not exclusively seniors.

Computerized test is accurate, developer says

Alberta Transportation says more than 8,000 drivers have had their licences taken away due to medical conditions. However, they don't break that number down to show how many of them are seniors.

Ruth Adria

Ruth Adria, the executive officer of the Elder Advocates of Alberta, says driving is essential for many seniors. (CBC News)

PC leadership candidate Ric McIver said while he was transportation minister there was a steady stream of complaints from seniors who felt they were being set up to fail with the DriveAble test.

“I’m not going to get legal about it,” McIver told CBC News. “I’m just going to say it’s not going to be a test that we use anymore.”

Bland says the computerized test is an accurate measurement of people’s driving abilities on the road. A third-party group in California conducted an analysis of the test, Bland said, and found a very strong correlation between the test results and actual driving ability.

“If you score in the high risk in the office, we know there’s a very high correlation between that in-office score and actual on the road,” he said.

If someone scores poorly on the DriveAble test, he says "to be quite honest, it’s unsafe for that person to go on the road.”