Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No changes for older drivers despite death

Woman parking car runs over husband

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The death of a North Kildonan senior after his wife collided with him while parking their vehicle will not change how the province's vehicle insurer -- or the provincial government -- treats older drivers.

Both Manitoba Public Insurance and the provincial government say they will not be reviewing whether older drivers need tougher licensing requirements.

Winnipeg police Const. Eric Hofley said Friday an 84-year-old woman was parking her car behind her house in the 400 block of Oakview Avenue on Thursday at about 2:45 p.m., when she struck her 86-year-old husband.

Hofley said the man was rushed to hospital in critical condition, but died of his injuries.

"There are no charges pending or being considered," he said.

"It's a tragic accident. What more can be said? It doesn't happen too often. I don't know if age played a part in it."

Police will not be releasing the name of the man.

On Friday, there was no yellow police tape in the back alley, but a pool of dried blood was still visible in the middle of the lane.

A member of the couple's family at the Oakview Avenue bungalow declined to comment.

In recent years, there have been calls across the country for more restrictions to be implemented when a senior kills somebody while driving a vehicle.

Last year, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published an editorial calling for a graduated licensing system for seniors, similar to what rookie drivers have to go through to get their licences.

But a provincial government spokeswoman said it's not looking at reviewing any changes to the legislation covering Manitoba drivers.

"The provincial government believes that licensing must be based on an individual's capacity to operate a motor vehicle, not their age," the spokeswoman said.

"There are already rules in place that can result in someone being excluded from driving or having to be re-examined before being allowed to drive."

As well, the spokeswoman said, while doctors and optometrists are supposed to report any driver who has a medical condition that could affect the ability to drive a vehicle, it is not intended just for drivers with age-related health concerns. Police officers or family members can also report drivers.

Brian Smiley, a spokesman for MPI, said the latest statistics compiled in 2011 show drivers 65 and older are in the age group that has the fewest collisions.

The statistics show drivers 65 and older are in only 10 per cent of collisions and 16 per cent of all fatal collisions. A total of 4,380 drivers 65 and older were in collisions in 2011.

But Smiley noted the largest proportion of drivers in collisions are aged 16 to 24, with them being in 22 per cent of collisions and 24 per cent of all fatal collisions. There were 10,109 drivers in this age group in collisions in 2011.

Smiley said when it comes to how senior drivers are handled by MPI, "Manitoba is consistent with other provinces. "Obviously, whether a senior or a novice, they are monitored if they get into traffic collisions," he said.

But Smiley said a driver might get restrictions instead of losing their licence, including not being able to drive at night, having to always wear glasses, or restricting how far they can drive from their residence.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 24, 2013 A4

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