Aging drivers face discrimination

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Dear editor,

I am writing to express my annoyance and frustration at the situation in the licence examining system for AZ drivers who are 65 years and older.

For many of these drivers, their life’s wages were earned driving the ‘big rigs’ on short-haul, long-haul and internationally. These men and women are experienced and wise and have seen and dealt with traffic from low traffic two-lane highways to six-, eight- and 12-lane highways.

What bothers me is that drivers can and do drive large tractor trailers without harassment until they are 64 years and 364 days old and the next day they are treated as if they know nothing and can’t handle anything more than a family car until they have gone through exhaustive testing and hands-on examining. Tell me what happens overnight on the 364th night to turn these drivers into idiots too dangerous to allow on the roads?

I would like to know why evidence of a medical examination, an eye examination and a licence abstract would not be sufficient enough to allow drivers to continue in their driving job if they so wish.

We hear from employers and the media there is a shortage of transport drivers but many of these over-65-year-old drivers would and could help to alleviate this situation if they weren’t made to feel like second class citizens the day of their 65th birthday.

I feel this annual testing is ‘age-profiling’ and discriminatory. Many of these drivers feel intimidated by the intensive examining and testing, yet they know more through experience and practice than the testers and examiners.

As an example of a situation, consider my own case.

I have been a commercial driver all my life. I started with a special licence at 14. I am now 68. I have driven every size and configuration of vehicle made on the roads from Newfoundland to Victoria and from Fort St. John to Houston, Texas. I have hauled every commodity made, grown or mined.

I have trained and taught professional drivers for my last employer and taken them to the examining centres.

Yet, when I turned 65, I was treated as a new driver and had to write the test papers and take a practical driving test just like a novice.

I am writing this letter on behalf of many older drivers who feel betrayed by the system. They would work part time to alleviate some of the hours-of-service of other drivers or to fill in for holiday absences, family leaves etc. if keeping their licence wasn’t such a hassle.

Surely a driver’s record should count for something.

As I mentioned before if there is no adverse medical condition and if vision is okay and the driver’s abstract is clear, why shouldn’t they keep their licence?

Don Wilson

D.S.B Trucking

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