More drivers losing licences for medical reasons
More than 75 per cent are seniors
The number of people in Newfoundland and Labrador who've lost their drivers licences for medical reasons has grown over the past five years.
Provincial numbers show that 1,433 people had their licences suspended in 2011 compared to 1,170 five years earlier.
CBC News obtained the statistics in early January with an access to information request filed to Service NL in November.
More than three-quarters of the drivers who lost their licences were seniors.
Last fall, CBC spoke with a physician and a occupational therapist who say the number doesn't mean seniors are bad drivers.
The two — who test drivers' abilities — told CBC that older people are more likely to have medical conditions that make them unable to drive safely.
They also said they believe the province isn't identifying all of the people who shouldn't be driving.
The issue about when to stop driving is a national concern.
In a 2012 report, Statistics Canada suggested many seniors continue to to drive, despite evidence that their faculties are failing.
"At Levels 5 and 6 (people who did not see well enough to read the newspaper or recognize a friend on the other side of the street, even with glasses), 19 per cent had a driver's licence," the study noted.
"Among seniors who had the most serious hearing problems … 53 per cent had a licence, and about one-half had driven a vehicle in the previous month."
It also found that a quarter of all seniors diagnosed with a form of dementia still have valid driver’s licences.
Potential system flaw
Last November, a CBC investigation found there may be a flaw in the system Newfoundland and Labrador uses to identify which drivers should have their licences suspended for medical reasons.
A family physician who tests senior drivers fears the oral examination he does to determine a patients fitness to drive doesn’t catch all the risky drivers.
He said a road test would be a better way to measure patients’ driving skills.
At the time, CBC asked Service NL for the number of people who lost their licences for medical reasons over the past five years.
After repeated requests, CBC filed an official access to information request.