Mixed messages

As the Ontario DriveTest strike drags on (and on and on and on), it seems professional drivers are getting mixed messages on the validity of their expired driver’s licences.
One driver, who ironically called me weeks ago to see if it was okay for him to operate in the US with an expired Ontario A/Z licence, called back to let me know he was in fact pulled over by a police officer while in the US. To his surprise, the officer was aware of the Ontario DriveTest strike and asked our intrepid driver if he had a copy of the MTO letter handy. He did, and was turned loose without further incident.
Here in good ol’ Ontario, however, another reader was involved in a minor accident with an expired licence. He tells me the police officer who arrived at the accident told him that he wasn’t allowed to drive with an expired licence – DriveTest strike or not. His licence was downgraded on the spot.
So there you have it, while the MTO has assured drivers that they can continue to operate with an expired commercial driver’s licence while the DriveTest strike continues, it appears not all officers interpret the situation the same way.
On a related note, I became concerned about whether professional drivers would be insured in the event of an accident with a seemingly expired driver’s licence, and so I posed this question to my contacts at Markel. Here is what they had to say: ‘I checked with our Underwriting department to confirm. If a person’s license has expired and they are unable to renew because of the Drive Test labour dispute, they will still be covered by insurance in the result of a crash. The Ontario Government has implemented a regulation that speaks to this issue. Please see the attached link to the regulation below.’
The link, if you’re interested, is here.
Meanwhile, the Ontario Liberals need to get over their fear of unions and step in to put an end to this strike. Imagine the backlog that’s going to exist when the labour dispute does come to an end. Thousands of new drivers as well as those requiring upgrades and renewals will be in the queue. It’s time the province extends signing authority to outside agencies and re-evaluates why this essential service is outsourced to a publicly-trade, profit-motivated, foreign company in the first place. Mind you, I suspect that’s exactly what the union wants.

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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