A Sudbury geriatrician is questioning the usefulness of new driving tests for seniors aged eighty and over.

Dr. Jo-Anne Clarke said the Ministry of Transportation may not have the best tools to screen seniors for dementia.

The province has scrapped the written knowledge test for those eighty and over, but they must pass a vision test, a driver record review, a classroom session and two screening exercises.

The government said these measures are designed to weed out drivers who many need further assessment, such as a road test or medical review.

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An advocate for seniors says family members and a family doctor are the best resource when determining whether a senior is suitable to drive. (Brian Ray/Canadian Press)

But Clarke, a geriatrician in Sudbury, said some of the screening tests are not good red flags.

“How does that actually translate into how people drive on the road? And we know that the office-based assessment is a very poor predictor of driving ability.”

Those who do poorly may be asked to get a medical review, or they can pay for a road test which costs about $700.

That cost is ridiculous, said John Lindsay, president of the Sudbury advocacy group called Friendly to Seniors.

“You know, seniors generally get a discount. They don't generally have an extra levy applied.”

Family members and a family doctor are the best resource when determining whether a senior is suitable to drive, Lindsay added.

Clark noted the Ministry of Transportation's screening may not be up to the complicated job of detecting dementia in older drivers.

“What's your next step? Do they do an on-road driving test, are they referred to their physicians for further assessment? Is their licence suspended? And I think [these are] the questions I don't see answered,” she said.

“[I] would be interested to hear from someone from the ministry to say, 'Well, what's the process once that happens?'”