Truck News


Where there’s solidarity, there’s hope

Our recent coverage of the discriminatory road test requirement for all senior A/Z licence holders in Ontario has created quite the stir. My phone’s been ringing off the hook from drivers wanting to know what can be done. The requirement is not new – it’s been a thorn in the side of senior drivers for years.
What is new, however, is that there are now equipment stipulations that require road tests to be completed using a manual transmission and minimum 45-ft. trailer (amont other things). Believe it or not, there are a ton of senior drivers using automated transmissions – not because they can’t shift gears, but because they felt it was a safer and more efficient spec’.
Many of these drivers have accumulated millions of miles of safe driving, some dating back to when two-stick transmissions were the norm. The new requirements were intended to prevent unskilled entry-level drivers from obtaining an A/Z licence without the skills required to operate a typical tractor-trailer, but they’ve had the unintended consequence of chasing some of this industry’s greatest assets out of the industry.
Times are tough, and the costly burden of renting a truck with a manual transmission for a road test is too much for some to bear. So they’re begrudgingly calling it quits – and the entire industry, in fact all road users, are losing out.
Many callers have asked me ‘What can we do?’ I’m normally not a fan of online petitions or letter writing campaigns, but now that both OBAC and the OTA are on-board (and the PMTC has also lobbied against the current requirements), there’s reason to believe something can be accomplished here.
There’s a precedent for this. Remember the Lunchbag Letdown Campaign in 2007? The CTA, OBAC and the Teamsters set aside their political differences and urged truckers to fill in a postcard and send it to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, requesting that the meal tax deduction limit be increased from 50% to 80%. And it worked. More than 4,000 drivers sent in their postcards and it created an impression. The March 07 budget included a clause that would restore the meal tax deduction limit to 80% by 2011.
Hopefully, the fact that the vast majority of owner/operators, drivers and carriers are in agreement the system needs to be revamped will help nudge the province into action. The OTA has set up a Web site dedicated to the cause. You can see it here.
Included is their suggested fix. To summarize: A driver would be required to prove medical fitness every year after reaching the age of 65; the renewal period for a CDL upon reaching the age of 65 should be two years until the driver reaches the age of 71, and annually thereafter; and the driver would be required to pass the normal written test and written air brake examination, but would only be required to take a road test and practical air brake examination if they have more than: five demerit points, one preventable accident and/or one out-of-service violation.
Does it go far enough? Bearing in mind the province is more likely to tweak the rules than rewrite them altogether, I think it strikes a pretty good balance. Most drivers I’ve heard from are alright with the yearly medicals and they’re also okay with road tests for drivers that have anything less than a stellar driving record. The OTA’s suggestion would alleviate most senior drivers from the costly and onerous annual road tests while maintaining a strong emphasis on road safety.
If you feel the mandatory road test requirement for senior drivers is discriminatory, then have your say. I’ve practiced what I preach, and fired off a variation of the OTA letter as well as the recent Truck News coverage to my local MPP, Transport Minister Jim Bradley and Conservative Transport critic Frank Klees. It’s worth a shot.

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 or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.
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6 Comments » for Where there’s solidarity, there’s hope
  1. John White says:

    Great article James. There is a tremendous amount of untapped political strength in this industry if we can only pull everyone together. The speed limiter protest in Ontario is a great example of a lost opportunity. Complaining at a truck stop will get you no where. Guys like Scott Mooney who organized the protest are grass roots leaders that get things started but the rest of the industry has to get off their collective butts and show politicians the numbers that will make them think twice about the next election.

  2. paul korn says:

    I can still remember when I turned 65yrs and had to take the road test,at that point I had about 35yrs of driving,and it was intimdating.
    Most senior drivers know what to listen for and what to look for when we are the road,it does not mean that when we first get in our truck that we do not do our circle check.We know what we are to do.
    I agree that if we get X number of demerit points or have a medical issue then maybe then we should be retested.
    Thank you
    Paul korn

  3. It really is not just the renting of a truck with a manual transmission that is the burden to a 65+ driver. What the Ministry requires for a Road Test / Pre Trip inspection is NOT industry standard. When do you ever hear of or see a driver who is testing his/her Air Brake System put on a Safety Vest, Hard Hat, Safety Goggles, Work Boots, and get under their truck to do the inspection. It doesn’t happen and it is not required. The Drive Test Facility requires drivers to use such equipment to complete an air brake test to meet standards that are only their own. Most of the drive test facility inspectors have not even taken a road test themselves in a Tractor Trailer with an air brake system to achieve their AZ licenses. I feel for the Drivers that are 65 and older, our school offers a course to help them re test but really it is not fair to the ones that are physically and mentally capable of operating a Transport Truck and Trailer safely. They are the TRUE ROAD KNIGHTS of the ROAD.

  4. MARTIN COWIE says:

    I would like to comment on the “Over 65 Retest” fiasco.
    I have worked as a Truck Driver Trainer and Train the Trainer for 3 years. During that time the MTO or to be politically correct, Drive Test, has made it very clear that certain elements have to be maintained.
    When going around a corner, the driver should be in 4 th gear (about) and do not change gears until the vehicle, truck and trailer, are straight. How many of us do this. I have had my license for over three decades now and I still do this maneuver.
    Another is: while changing lanes, if you change a lane and cancel your blinker and at the same time change a gear, this is a failure. The Drive Test’s outlook on this is, who is driving or holding on to the steering wheel.
    I have a personal friend who is a Driver Trainer and while talking to him regarding the new road test for truck drivers over 65 he informed me that over the last few years things have changed even more and depending on which Drive Test facility you attend. Some of the changes are, the driver does not have to check his oil or anti-freeze or under the hood at all, another is after doing an inspection on one side, mentioning that the other side is the same…WHAT!.
    The list goes on. While being employed by a previous company I met a couple of drivers who thought that because they have had their license for many years and no accidents or incidents, that they would ace the test. I offered my services to them, however.
    One never even made it out of the lot. He did not stop before hooking up the truck to the trailer, the air has to be applied and charge the system before the truck can couple the unit. The other failed because of going around a corner with one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the stick…Go figure.
    They both dropped to a “D” license and I do not know where they are now. Hopefully they are Driver Trainers because both were excellent drivers with a calm temperment.
    You are correct, things have to change to stop this discrimination against our senior drivers.

  5. G. Paul Langman says:

    Tanya Cullaton’s comments are right on. Maybe the reason for all the safety gear is because the MTO test facilities are very dangerous workplaces!! I haven’t had to visit one yet as I am only 61 yrs old! Seriously though, I find the requirements out of line. It would be very appropriate to up the medical fitness checks to every year after 65 (for ALL classes of licence I think). If a driver is physically and mentally healthy there is no reason to believe he is suddenly unfit to drive a big vehicle. I am not afraid to take a test but it seems a waste of time and money. ALL taxpayer’s money,-not just mine. Also it is obvious to me that the people who wrote the rules for the new class A licence test vehicle requirements don’t have a clue about how modern trucks are built. I was a big supporter of the idea of a class of licence to cover the drivers of vehicles such as fifth wheel horse trailers, but this has been a waste of time, money, and paper.

  6. Pat McAuley says:

    I am a carrier with 5 Trucks ,I am 66 yoers old I went for my second test last month only to be told I had to have a truck with a standard transmission all my trucks are automatic,
    so at the end of the day it cost me $600.00 to hire a truck with all other expences this it to much to bare something has to be done,we should not have to be tested every year.
    A medical shouls be enough,being older dose not mean we are unable to drive as well as most younger men.

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