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Senior drivers: The Minister responds


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
Minister

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

James Menzies

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 james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.
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16 Comments » for Senior drivers: The Minister responds
  1. Harry Rudolfs says:

    I agree completely that the AZ driving test for seniors is discriminatory and won’t do anything to uncover hidden medical conditions. If only your point of view could find a champion at Queen’s Park who could take the minister to task. What’s Peter Kormos doing these days?

  2. James Menzies says:

    Harry, In speaking to drivers who have contacted their MPP over this, it appears most MPPs aren’t aware of the testing requirement and are surprised to learn of it. However, we’ve yet to see an MPP make it their cause and run with it.
    For what it’s worth, I copied Conservative MPP Frank Klees on the original e-mail and he was also copied on the Minister’s response. But his plate is rather full these days as he’s embroiled in a race for the Conservative leadership.
    Anyone else have discussions with their MPP on this issue?
    James

  3. David Robson says:

    The government is making things harder for themselves by trying to implement a new form of an existing rule. A medical and driver skill requirement has been in place for years and to me is quite satisfactory. The only thing that should change is possibly the frequency at which these qualifications must be met as the driver ages. Again I feel it is a case of not enforcing existing rules.
    (§391.41 Physical qualifications for drivers), to be submitted every year after age 65 and (§383.113 Required skills) to be re-qualified only when re-instating a suspended license.
    If the government was serious about the medical qualification the would enforce the doctors to be more thorough with the exam to determine respiratory, cardio-vascular, cholesterol,sugar,blood-pressure and heart and lung ex rays to better determine past unknown medical conditions. The normal blood, urine, eye test and questionnaire just doesn’t do it as many drivers use a medical examination service that has no record of your medical on file and are dependent on your truthfulness to answering the questions.
    I can appreciate the goal the government is trying to achieve, I just can’t conceive their methods of achieving it.

  4. Paul Korn says:

    I tried contacting my MPP Ted Chudleigh and when he finally did get get back to me he did know what I was even reffering to but I understand because he is trying to mirror Garth Turner and this to insignificant.

  5. Martin Cowie says:

    I would like to add that I have personally seen a 65 year old driver who has hundreds of thousands of miles under his belt, with 30 years over the road. I offered my services to him before the Road Test. He informed me that he is a great driver, and he was. However the Drive Test examiners look at each driver the same way. This older gentlemen failed because he went around corners shifting gears, which in the eyes of the MTO an Drive Test is a no-no. Also while changing lanes he let go of his right hand to change gears and cancelled his blinker at the same time, again no-no. He has never used a clutch and they wanted him to double-clutch.
    Yet for over 30 years this was exceptable. When I went for my license 31 years ago, the examiner said “kick the tires, get in and lets go.”
    I agree with the medical checks, however I disagree with road test unless they are done fairly. Which means, understand that the Drive Test personnel should be looking at the safety aspect of the road test. Not what you look for when a “newbie” comes for a road test.

  6. Carl Roy says:

    For Queens Park Help try Tim Hudak, Randy Hiller. both of these men are well aware of the situation and said they will try to chane from the opposition side but when elected with a majority in the next election this situation could change.

  7. john t mackay says:

    message to the minister,
    if drivers of commercial vehicles, over 65 pose a threat to highway safety,
    what is your stand regarding non-commercial drivers who purchase a large
    travel trailer or motor home. these people may have little to no experience
    driving these types of vehicles. i have driven more than one million miles
    in commercial vehicles, accident free and have observed scarry driving by these
    people. lane changes without a signal. cannot back-up safely, do not perform
    a daily pre-trip inspaection, lights not working, safety restraints for trailers
    not used, breakaway devises not working or missing, this list could go on.
    iam also a heay truck and trailer technition and have observed many mechanical problems with the above mentioned vehicles the owner or driver had not noticed.
    regardstom mackay

  8. Derek says:

    Get Joanne Ritchie of OBAC on board.

  9. B.J Plummer says:

    I too am guilty of being an over 65 ONTARIO based driver,no-one at Drive Test cares that I’ve got well over 30 years safe driving behind me,over ten of them training new drivers both over the road with a large well known company and in truck for one of the leading truck schools,they don’t care that many of the new drivers that have been passed by them in the last year were trained by me and another over 65 driver.
    If over 65 AZ drivers pose such a safety threat on the Highways of Ontario why does the Powers that be allow out of province and U.S drivers who are not held to these restrictions to run freely into and across Ontario?
    I agree we should have to have yearly medicals and keep a clean drivers record but to be road tested every year is redundent.If we show that we’re actively employed are healthy and can pass a written test that should be sufficient.If I can safely pilot 65′ of truck around the biggest cities in North America what is a 45 min “test” by some one who has probaly never driven professionally going to prove? Who is checking out the 30 and 40 yr old drivers who are 100 lbs over weight? Most older AZ drivers have learned how to take care of ourselves
    and are actually healthier then some of the younger ones.
    B.J Plummer

  10. Peter McGill says:

    I have written Jim Bradely many times.I allways got the BS about over 65 having more accidents.When I mentioned that commercial drivers were being lumped in with over 85’s that maybe never knew how to drive properly the last letter I got says COMMERCIAL drivers over 65 have1.5 times the accidents.Iwant to know where these figures come from.Let’s hear from an insurance underwriter.Thet are digging in their heels on this and unless they get big time pressure from OTA or a human rigts complaint nothing will happen.They will make it worse not better.
    Peter McGill

  11. AnnaEadie says:

    A 76 year old truck driver just took out a line of cars and killed 9 people instantly, and the tenth is about to die in the hospital in a coma. Among the dead are a 7 year old, his dad, his grandma, and his mom is about to die.
    They were my neighbors. (story at wfaa.com)
    Is there a way we can test to make sure these older driver are still fit to drive, without diminished reflexes and response time (they said he never even attempted to put on the breaks)…
    Is there a way we can test to ensure safety without it being considered discrimination?
    To me this is not age discrimination, this is quality control.
    Can we test response time and make sure only the safest drivers are allowed behind the wheel of the trucks?
    His abilities may have diminished a bit over time. I am almost 40 and I know my body is not the same as it was 20 years ago. Is it possible that when he was 40 or 50 years old his reflexes were quicker? His response time was faster?
    Is there already a test that would suffice to weed out the drivers who may be more of a risk than others? Would it not be considered age discrimination if they made drivers of all ages take the test every 5 years to ensure safety?
    I know that I am not as familiar with the industry as you.
    All drivers will not agree with me.
    But I am sure that all drivers would agree that they would not want their loved ones to die this way.
    Is there something that can be done to prevent a catastrophy like this from happening again?
    annaeadie@yahoo.com

  12. Roger Mcclure says:

    I am 65 waiting waiting to be tested. 45 years in gravel in any type of truck trailor or trailors. The trailers I have pulled for the last 20 years can not be usedin my test because they 36 feet? Which means I have to rent a truck and trailor. What is left is write my air test I get a D. No medical no test I drive around in a tandem. There is something with this picture do you not agree.

  13. Brian collins says:

    I am told next month I have to be road tested because of my age. 64, I was perfectly fit to drive, a day later I am incompetant. If you are an employer — who would you hire, a driver who has been driving for over thirty years, healthy, knows the job well, has never been in an accident and speaks and writes the Canadian languages French and English. or———————–an immigrant who just got his license. At present I am working for a company who has me there as as the token Canadian in case some companies they deliver to are tired of having ther loading docks crushed, late deliveries and having someone take an hour to back into a dock.But most of all can’t read signs or their paperwork. How do these drivers get their license if they can’t read. Anyway iam venting here and all this falls on deaf ears, it is the Canadian way.
    The immigrants tell me they have numbered companies , so they rarely pay to the taxes of this country
    (another subject in this country) all the illegals driving transport trucks. With phoney licenses.
    I will be gone soon and relaced, good luck to your children and mothers on the 401 tommorrow.

  14. Brian says:

    Message body 65 year old drivers in Ontario are being discriminated against and face the humiliation and cost of being tested every year after 65. The Province of Ontario is the only government in North America that puts it’s seniorTransport drivers through this test every year .
    Good Morning,
    My name is Brian Collins , I have been operating Heavy Equipment, logging equipment and Tractor Trailer most of my life (40 years). I worked for Loblaws 18 years driving Transport and because of our wages and benefits we 300 drivers were shutdown and the company moved to Ajax. I was semi-retired in 2009, when a Supervisor asked if I would like to work for Muirs Transport on a contract to Home Depot, I have worked for them for the past year.
    On Friday December 2 2011 , not knowing of the consequences ( my license would be taken away that day) thinking my experience over the years would mean something to the Ontario Government. I was re- tested for my AZ transport license which I have held in Ontario since 1992, I turn 65 on January 4 2012. Because I was on Contract to Muirs they would not lend me a tractor trailer, I had to find a tractor trailer. No one rents tractor trailers, luckily or unluckily I found one for $200, it was an older not in good shape Volvo highway rig , but it was driveable. Because of this tractor and of course the test I was nervous when the examiner arrived to test. Sadly, the examination was a disaster, It was as though I had never driven before , the tractor was different, the examiner was intimidating ( I was told that if I got the women examiner she never passes anyone on the first attempt) , nothing was the same for my Air brakes test , so I failed. She told me they do these tests to keep bad drivers off of the road , that Ontario has the safest roads in the world because of this. So the millions of accident free miles in all kinds of situations and weather meant nothing to the Ontario government. After the years on the road, I was considered unsafe to drive. I thought the company and companies I worked for now and before considered me safe. I am sure they do not hire drivers who are unsafe and cannot drive. So my not being prepared and again nervousness got me fired by the Ontario Government because of my demotion to a D license. So here I am on the outside looking in at the job I love to do and do it well, these many years.
    For the past few months I have trying to contact my MPP in Brampton Linda Jeffreys , Dalton McGinty, and The Minister of Tranportation Bob Chiarelli , but all I get is a generic note” That it is good to hear from their public” and they will get back to me. Linda Jeffreys office is around the corner from me , I have been to her office but there is only a person who takes my statement and she will get back to me.
    JUST WANTED TO EXPLAIN THE COST STRESS TO SENIOR DRIVERS WHOM IN MOST CASES WOULD LOVE TO RETIRE , BUT IN THIS ECONOMIC CLIMATE AND THE 50% TAXES WE HAVE ALL PAID OVER THE YEARS, IT IS DIFFICULT.
    Here are some thoughts from other Provinces about the age discrimination in Ontario:
    Manitoba Trucking Association general manager Bob Dolyniuk thinks Ontario’s system doesn’t make any sense.
    “Our drivers aged 65 and over have to go for medicals every year but they don’t have to go for road tests annually unless there’s an incident that would cause them to be retested. Testing all drivers aged 65 or older every year is like saying everybody under 25 should be tested every year. You could argue for testing them annually just as easily.”
    The Alberta Motor Transport Association says that if the province suddenly decided to make drivers take a road test every year as of 65, “our industry would have something to say about it.”
    In Alberta, drivers 65 and older are required to take a yearly medical and must only take a road test if their doctor recommends it.
    In Quebec, maintaining your Class 1, 2 or 3 licence means you have to go for a medical at 45, 55, 60 and 65, and then every two years after that. You’re only road tested if there’s a problem.
    Indeed, Ontario’s age based road testing is generally viewed as something of an anomaly.
    “We don’t have that kind of requirement here,” says BCTA president and CEO Paul Landry. “And if we did I would want to be satisfied that there was in fact a problem associated with senior truck drivers – it’s certainly not clear to me that an older professional driver is any more or less of a problem than other drivers.”
    Indeed, the general opinion in the industry appears to be that older commercial drivers are safer than younger drivers.
    One of the reasons the average age of Canadian truck drivers is 46 is because insurance companies won’t insure younger drivers, says CTHRC research project manager Ray Barton.
    “The general reason the average age of truck drivers is older than the average age of the general working public is largely due to insurance issues,” says Barton. “That’s why there are very few working commercial drivers under 25.”
    Markel Insurance vice-president of underwriting Tim Courtney, for his part, says age doesn’t play a factor in commercial driver insurability. And he says his company hasn’t even seen any statistical evidence to indicate older drivers are more likely to have accidents than any other age.

  15. hanster says:

    I ALSO HAVE TO TAKE MY AZ TEST I AM STARTING TO GET VERY ANGRY ABOUT IT THIS PEOPLE JUST THROW ANYTHING THEY WANT OUT I HAVE BEEN DRIVING FOR 30 SOME YEARS WITH NO ACCIDENTS THINK GOD.NOW I WILL BE OUT OF WORK NOT TO THINK OF THE COST WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO CHARGE THE FOR THIS BACK TO THEM I ALSO HEARING THAT IF YOU FAIL YOU LOSE YOUR DZ TO. TRy TO FIND OUT IF THIS IS TRUE, IF SO IT’S LIKE HAVING A GUN TO OUR HEADS. [I’M VERY PISSED]NOT EVEN gov, sold another thing that they couldn’t run just a big money grib. No proof of the so called 65 fact, If the so called trucking association was thinking of us they would do something myself, we stop all the trucks for a few day to let them know how we fell. But that not happening let them go without there product. Maybe making more room for new people coming in so they can have our jobs .

  16. Brenda says:

    My husband is 74yrs old,is remarkably healthy, has over 30yrs as a commercial driver, never had an accident or citation. When he applied at several locations for a part time job the employers were all over him till they tried to put him on their company insurance policy, the rate was so inflated they wouldn’t hire him. Not because of his driving record, but because of his age! Where is the justice?

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