A new police hotline up to receive anonymous complaints about older people behind the wheel in Sudbury is worrying some seniors in the city.
Local police say it'll help to keep people safe. But opponents say seniors are being singled out.
'I thought it was picking on the elders, really.'—Noreen Talbot, 77
Concern was so great among Sudbury seniors that an information session was held Tuesday to explain more about the tip line and the police task force mandated with making sure elderly people are driving safely.
Dozens of seniors showed up to hear the presentation and ask questions — one of whom was 77-year-old Noreen Talbot, who says she's opposed the anonymous nature of the Crime Stoppers reporting line
"I thought it was picking on the elders, really," she said.
The task force is the brainchild of Greater Sudbury Police Constable Linda Burns, who says the reporting line is meant to proactively protect seniors.
"They take that report and they forward it over to myself or to the OPP and we go and do a door-knock with that person to find out if there are concerns or if, in fact, there are no concerns at all," she said.
'Time to hang up their keys'
The greatest misconception about reporting senior drivers is that they'll be charged or immediately have their licences revoked, Burns said.
Once seniors turn 80, they must attend a licence renewal session with the Ministry of Transportation to take an eye test, learn about new traffic laws and so on. They must also take a multiple-choice test about rules of the road and traffic signs. This renewal process is repeated every two years.
So far, the task force has had three calls since its launch.
"Two out of the three [seniors] I've followed up with … have already received their letters from the ministry and they are now deciding that they aren't going to drive anymore," Burns said.
"They're not going to fight it, they're not going to go in for the retesting. They believe it's time to hang up their keys."
Burns noted it may be more effective to introduce a "graduated system of licensing" for seniors. In the same sense that people learning to drive must meet certain conditions for a certain time period, the same case could be made for older drivers
In the meantime, the constable said she expects more people will start using the police hotline once they find out seniors aren't charged or stripped of their licences as a result of calling in a report.