Q&A - Failed Because of Not Shoulder Checking

Backing Up Shoulder CheckMy father, who just turned 80, is undergoing a mandatory drivers' exam next month. He did not pass the previous one, largely due to insufficient shoulder checks, according to the score sheet he was given.

He has fairly severe osteoarthritis, which limits his ability to twist the cervical spine, and long-standing severe lumbar degenerative disc disease, which compromises torsional movements in his lower spine.  This is the reason he can't really do shoulder checks.

However, I have heard of adaptive mirrors for drivers with mobility impairments which can supplement a restricted shoulder check and give a clear view of blind spots and nearby potential danger situations.

Can you tell me:

a) whether these adaptive mirrors are available in Canada and, if so, from where; and

b) is there any documentation my father could get, perhaps from his GP or an OT, that would verify for the driving examiner that my father is physically limited in his ability to do shoulder checks, that the special adaptive mirrors compensate for this, and that he should be allowed to use them as a proxy for a full shoulder check in his driving exam?

Any advice or pointers you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

Comments

Answer

The 2010 edition of the BC Driver's Fitness Handbook for Medical Professionals speaks about this:

OSMV may find individuals fit to drive if:

  • they retain sufficient movement and strength to perform the functions necessary for driving for their class of licence held
  • pain associated with the condition, or the drugs used to treat the condition, do not adversely affect their ability to drive safely
  • where required, a road test or other functional assessment indicates that they are able to compensate for any loss of functional ability required for driving, and
  • where permitted, they only drive with any vehicle modifications and devices required to compensate for their functional impairment.

I contacted ICBC and asked about using mirrors in place of physical head movement. The Driver Licensing department advised that if the driver cannot turn their head to examine the blind spots around the vehicle while driving they were considered to be no longer able to drive safely and would fail a road test. Using mirrors as a substitute for head movement would not be accepted.

Try Googling ...

... something like 'Driver Mobility Aids' and you'll likely find some sources.  GF Strong may also be able to advise, or Shoppers/Labron.  Even some auto parts suppliers may have this type of device.

If a person requires a certain device, i.e. Left Foot Gas Pedal or maybe a Steering Knob, this goes onto their license as a specific Restriction and they cannot then drive without it (presuming they pass their Road Test while using it).  And it's important to contact the Driver Services Centre ahead of time (they don't list their numbers but if you call 604.661.2255 you can ask to be put through, then ask for the Driver Examiner Supervisor) to put them in the picture as to the nature of the Road Test that will be needed.

Hope this helps a bit.

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