Ontario to introduce restricted licence for auto transmissions

by Today's Trucking

Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation is introducing a restricted A/Z licence for those who take their road test using an automated or automatic transmission.

The new restriction will take effect May 17, and will prohibit those drivers from operating a Class A vehicle with a manual transmission.

(Photo: James Menzies)

A ‘REST/COND G’ symbol will appear on the front of the individual’s driver’s licence. Those who hold a Class A licence prior to May 17 will continue to be able to drive trucks with automated, automatic or manual transmissions, according to a memo from Beth O’Connor, director, safety program development branch with MTO’s transportation safety division.

“This is something the PMTC has been lobbying for since 2015 and are glad to see this change made,” said Private Motor Truck Council of Canada president Mike Millian.

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  • I believe they got this one wrong. Just because technology advances and changes are made should not restrict operators (drivers) and having them have to take another road test etc. update to a manual shift. It should be up to the employers, as in the OHSA etc. to ensure the employee is trained and competent in operating the employers equipment. A license is for Class of vehicle and towed unit not for what the drivetrain is . What do you do for specialized carriers who utilize auxiliary transmissions or 27 speeds vs 10 speeds. That portion of training should be employer specific. If a driver has an A license and can already drive and back up etc., they can be taught how to shift a manual in a day or two and be competent.

    • 2 days to learn to control a tractor trailer with a manual transmission? I’ve tested alot of driver and doubt too many could learn not just how to shift but to control their vehicle with a manual transmission in 2 days. There is more to it than putting it in gear and moving through them. You also need to know when and jow to control that vehicle with that transmission…

      • Absolutely right Brian. I train drivers as well as test and everyone seems to think that if they can shift a manual in a car or small truck it will be an easy transition. It takes patience and proper training as well as repetition doing it properly to succeed. All the best, Tom.

  • Wow, little bit to late for that as most of the schools don’t offer manual transmission trucks for learning and exam.

  • Great! I had a lift with a driver who took his training and test on an automatic transmission. He ground the gears at every shift, missed shifts and basically proved that he couldn’t drive it. Two days later that tractor was in the shop for a transmission replacement.

  • I believe that MELT training will also need to increase due to this change, there is not enough time within the current hours of MELT to effectively train someone on a manual transmission. In conjunction, the cost of MELT training needs to increase. Second careers funding restriction of 40 / hr is not enough to cover schools costs.

    • I will agree more time needs to be spent training on manuals. I had a Hell of a time.
      As for increasing costs, I can’t speak for other schools tuitions or financially assisted training but I paid it from my pocket, around $8000.00, and something like 140 (or maybe160) hours and think I chose a really good school. After my company road test my examiner asked which school I had graduated from. He said he thought so because my inspection was so thorough and my driving very good. I missed visually checking fuel level in the tanks only because it wasn’t mentioned at the school but we did that where possible in the army.

    • The problem now is with the schools in the GTA area cutting rates to attract new students, the good schools have to try and compete. Cheap initial training will cost you more in repeating the MTO road test over and over. Endless money pit. Remember the old saying. You pay now or later.

  • I think this is a great idea. This is already done in NS. Being a driver trainer, this should have already been in place. We have issues now with people who can handle the truck in an auto, but cant understand or complete the manual requirements. This could become an unsafe problem in the future. Tagging the license is a good thing.

  • The only way to improve the new drivers is to disconnect the cruise control which would force them to sit in the proper position slightly away from the steering wheel instead of hiding behind the doorpost, and having all trucks have the On Guard front bumper monitoring system just incase their mind is too occupied with their phone buddies, to stop the truck before hitting the vehicles stopped ahead of them.

  • Why take such a small bite. Why don’t you go after the root problem? These cookie cutter schools that handout A/Z Licenses for profit not performance. Another soft handed approach to fixing the industry.

  • Well it is about time.
    In the UK ,you can only get your driver’s license using a vehicle with a manual transmission and have been for 50 years and more.
    Truck driving schools should ensure new drivers can operate a manual transmission with competence.
    I have come across too many graduates from driving schools who seek employment, and thier first question is if the truck is automatic or manual. If manual they say not interested and walk away.
    Just drive a class 8 truck down the 401 and look to see as they pass you how many drivers have thier feet up on the dash and talking away loudly into thier head set microphone to thier families and friends.
    I have even experienced drivers stopping in at our shop and admit they can drive forward but can’t back up. Hmm ,who signed off of thier licence.
    Where did the good old truck driver go that you could follow through a snow storm to get you home safely.
    I know, they are retired,glad to be out of the rat race, and shaking thier heads while having coffee with one of thier good old buddies !

  • How about having heavy trucks staying in the Right Hand lane and not blocking/holding up other lanes? 2 lanes through Toronto on 401 and like situations should be for cars and small vehicles ONLY.
    So many ignorant truck drivers hold up a great many vehicles.

  • I’ve been driving for 36 yrs now and as far as I’m concerned you should be able to drive an automatic truck until you have 5 yrs experience behind the wheel driving a manual transmission. This way the drive has control of the truck and the truck doesn’t have control of the driver

  • Automatic transmission that for dangerous drivers or inexperienced drivers!! A really professional truck driver’s driving a MANUAL transmission

  • This is about time many truck drivers do not even know how to change a Head Light or shift a manual transmission. We need bring in higher standards and more realistic expectations of hourly pay based on years experience. E logs chase many people out of business without minimum wage rate on a per hour plus required parking at shippers and receiving. The so called truck driver shortage will disappear with O T R truck drivers making at least $27.00 per hour plus medical care. Also local truck drivers with 2 or more years experience should make at least $24.00 per hour if they can drive a manual transmission.

  • what does it matter if a person can shift gears or not you should be concerned if they are a safe driver who follows the rules of the road.

  • I will be honest here. I took my road test 5 years ago with an automated transmission. I did it only because I needed to go back to working again. (I had retired 2 years earlier from a different career and it’s a long story.)
    I can drive a 6 speed synchronized manual transmission on my car with no trouble, but had I ran into trouble on the truck during training. There was times I could drive it like I had written the book and then even during the same lesson, my instructor would sometimes wonder if a manual transmission and I were ever introduced. I think there should be more time during training to learn, especially if the student is having troubles.
    I wasn’t really terrible at it, but I sure wasn’t the greatest.
    I was provisionally hired by a large carrier before I had even graduated because of my overall averages (2 weeks left) and they had completely switched the fleet over from manuals. They said it was so the driver could concentrate on driving and not having to shift all the time making it easier for them. True or baloney, I don’t know.
    My current carrier switched over before I got there, no reason given to me.
    I would like to get more practice but none of our fleet has a manual except for the yard truck, which I can drive, but it is not fit for the road.
    When I drive, I take it very seriously, maybe because of age, and don’t like using cruise control. I don’t feel like I am in true control of the truck, don’t even use it on my cars for the same reason.
    Drivers lounging around the cab like some have said while driving need to take what they are doing seriously.

  • I whole heartedly agree with the post below that you are tested and licensed for the ” Class of vehicle and towed unit not for what the drivetrain is”. If this is a major safety issue why is there no restriction for other manual vehicles, for instance a car.
    If the minstry wants to improve over all road safety then all tests should be given in a full sized tractor and 53′ trailer. The ministry acceptable practice of allowing a day cab and 45 foot flat bed trailer, for road tests is a much more serious issue.
    Maybe we should just look at MELT as what it was intended to be. Minimum Entry Level Training, which gets a student to the point of getting an AZ License (without restrictions). All other Industry specific or additional training above ‘Minimum’ should be the responsibility of the trucking industry and could be provided at a later date.
    As it stands now the MELT program only has 32 hours alloted to ‘on road’ which is not nearly enough when you consider all of the training that needs to happen.

  • I was an I.T tech support in GTA. I got laid off and got in trucking in 2016. I’ve never driven Manual cars. I wasn’t interested in driving Manual. I learnt and did road test in Auto. Passed it in first attempt. It’s been 5 years and I can drive Manual just enough to do yard moves. I’ve been long hauler going to Laredo, McAllen, Cali, AZ, etc. I’d quit trucking if I have to drive Manual or drive within backward Canada. This restriction means nothing to me. I’ve no interest in backward outdated manuals. I don’t know of ANY auto drivers who would even want to drive manuals.