In writing an article on Alberta’s new licence restrictions for those who take their road test using a truck equipped with an automated or automatic transmission, I got to searching the various provincial government Web sites for background information.
As always, the regulatory regimes vary widely from province to province. Canada sure is a hodge-podge of rules and regulations – how we manage to conduct interprovincial trade is beyond me. But as always, you can count on Ontario to have the most hairbrained schemes of them all.
Ontario, as you may know, has a ‘Restricted’ A/Z licence for those who take their road test using a truck with an automated transmission. Fine. Other provinces do as well. But in the other provinces that have such policies in place, the restriction simply prevents them from operating a truck with a manual transmission. Not in Ontario, however. Here, drivers holding a ‘restricted’ licence are also forbidden from operating a vehicle with air brakes or trailers longer than 45 ft.
So consider this scenario: An owner/operator – for argument’s sake, an experienced driver who downgraded their licence and got out of the business for a while – shows up to take their road test in their own truck with an automated transmission pulling a 53-ft. trailer. They take their road test and pass with flying colours. They are then given a ‘Restricted’ A/Z licence – and it’s now illegal for them to drive their own truck and trailer home! Never mind the fact they have no intention of driving an 18-speed or any other standard transmission-equipped truck.
Think I make this stuff up? It’s all here in the MTO’s FAQ.
Of particular interest is Question 7, pertaining to drivers who show up with a truck that has an automated transmission:
What if I decide to continue with the road test and I pass but my vehicle can’t be driven with a restricted Class A licence?
In this situation the applicant has brought in a vehicle that does not meet their needs… Applicants who choose to proceed and pass will receive a Class A licence with the restrictive “R” condition code but will not be licensed to operate this vehicle unless being taught by an accompanying driver who holds a full privilege Class A licence.
So there you have it. As far as MTO is concerned, that truck with auto gearbox “does not meet their needs” even if that’s the truck the owner/operator plans to operate day in and day out.
In fairness, last month the MTO eliminated the standard transmission requirement for senior drivers taking their annual road tests. That’s a step in the right direction. But why should any driver who takes his/her road test using an automatic be prevented from operating a truck with air brakes or pulling a 53-ft. trailer? (There’s a separate test for air brakes and the transmission does not affect the maneuverability of the tractor or the length of the trailer)!
Then again, government types with better educations and bigger salaries than mine come up with these policies, so there’s got to be a good reason behind it…right?
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