The following is a letter from Ontario Transport Minister Jim Bradley in response to recent coverage of what Truck News has referred to as discriminatory driver testing requirements for senior drivers in Ontario… Dear Mr. Menzies:
Thank you for your e-mail and clipping from Truck News, regarding driver testing for commercial drivers aged 65 and over.
Ontario’s licensing policy regarding commercial drivers aged 65 and over is not arbitrary. Research shows that aging, coupled with medical conditions and the use of medication, could adversely affect a person’s driving ability. That is why the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators’ medical standards for drivers recommended that age-related factors be considered when making driver licensing decisions.
The 65 and over Commercial Driver Program provides a more rigorous licence renewal process for older commercial drivers. These drivers are more likely to develop medical conditions affecting their ability to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle. Any decline in driving-related skills can seriously affect road safety, as even a single commercial vehicle collision can have significant consequences. Road safety statistics show that between 1997 and 2006 commercial drivers aged 65 and over were one and a half times more likely to be involved in an injury collision than commercial drivers aged 45 to 64.
Improving overall truck safety and truck driver behaviour is a major commitment for my ministry. Working closely with the trucking industry and our road safety partners, we have developed a strategic plan to enhance truck safety that includes re-assessing the training, testing and licensing of commercial drivers.
Additionally, in 2008, my ministry joined with 28 industry stakeholders, such as the Ontario Trucking Association, to review senior commercial driver licence renewal requirements. The review covered all commercial licence classes including straight, combination and dump trucks as well as buses and school buses. Although no decision has been made to amend the licence renewal requirements for commercial vehicle operators, my ministry continues to monitor and evaluate the issue.
Again, thank you for your e-mail and please accept my best wishes.
Yours sincerely, Jim Bradley
To that I would respond, the Minister seems to have missed the point. No road test is going to uncover a medical condition – unless jumping jacks, push-ups and blood pressure checks are going to become part of the pre-trip inspection requirements. An annual medical, I’m willing to guess, would be accepted – even welcomed – by the majority of senior drivers if it meant the annual road test requirement was eliminated. It’s the road test that is costly, time-consuming and in most cases unnecessary.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies