Seniors represent the fastest-growing population group in Canada and many drive.
It is estimated that more than 4.6 million aged 65 or older held a valid driver's licence in 2021. In the coming decades, even more seniors will be behind the wheel. As motorists mature, driving takes on new potential challenges, particularly when it comes to safety and the cost of auto insurance.
While age alone does not determine a person’s ability to remain a safe driver, changes in your abilities make some activities more difficult. These can include:
• Vision: You may experience glare and it may be more difficult to see in the dark or scan the environment.
• Physical: You may feel weaker, stiff, experience pain or move more slowly.
• Cognition: It may be more difficult to remember things, make decisions or do activities when there are distractions.
• Reaction time: You may find it more difficult to react quickly in different situations.
In Ontario, once you hit the age of 80, you are required to participate in a driver’s licence renewal program to test your driving abilities. The program takes about 90 minutes to complete and includes:
In Alberta, at the age of 75 and every two years after the age of 80, you must provide a medical report from your doctor to renew your driver’s licence. You may be required to take a driving assessment test if your doctor deems it necessary. For other provinces, see this list of driving requirements for seniors in Canada.
Warning signs of unsafe driving
The Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists says some of the following may indicate warning signs of unsafe driving. They include:
These warnings don’t mean it’s necessary to stop driving, but it’s likely important to at least adjust your driving habits. For example: limiting driving at night, in bad weather or during rush hour or on limited access highways, maintaining a safe following distance; taking breaks if driving a long distance and being careful during lane changes or merging. Also, be sure to have regular medical checkups and always know how medications may affect your driving ability. Taking a refresher course to hone your driving skills may also be beneficial.
Ways for seniors to lower premiums
Like at any other age, premiums depend largely on your personal driving record and insurance history. As you enter your 70s and 80s, you may notice your premiums increasing. Each insurance provider calculates risk differently, so senior drivers can often find savings by switching to another provider. Here are some other ways to reduce your premiums:
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