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Clear Shot: “Why? Because.”

Nothing could be more infuriating to a child than hearing these words uttered by an elder. Imagine, then, how infuriating it must be for Al Wilson, a 65-year-old man with a spotless 30-year truck driv...




Nothing could be more infuriating to a child than hearing these words uttered by an elder. Imagine, then, how infuriating it must be for Al Wilson, a 65-year-old man with a spotless 30-year truck driving record, to be told he has to submit to an annual road test to maintain his licence, from now on for the rest of his career, for no apparent reason.

“Why?” the man asks, because he is a perfectly rational man, and because he sees that other drivers aged 65 plus living outside Ontario don’t have to submit to the annual testing unless they have a physical problem identified by their doctors during their required annual medicals, or some sort of accident which would raise a red flag. He asks because the cost of taking the test, in terms of time taken off work and money spent to take it, possibly even including the cost of another truck driving course because he hasn’t taken one in 30 years, seems unduly onerous. He asks simply because he is a tax-paying Canadian who believes he has the right to understand the justification behind a regulation that is not shared or practiced nationwide.

He asks because he’s a mature, responsible adult, who wants to give the Ontario Ministry of Transport the opportunity to explain to him why the provincial authorities feel 65 is an age at which a driver becomes liable to have accidents more frequently than at 20 or 25 or 40. He asks because he wants to know the truth.

But so far, the MTO has not been able to come up with any justification, stating simply that there do not “appear to be any compelling safety advantages to reducing the licensing requirements for Class A license holders.” (This is an excerpt from a letter to Al Wilson signed by Ernie Bentucci, from the office of Frank D’Onofrio, Ass. Deputy Minister for Transport – Road User Safety Division and CC’d to Transport Minister Harinder Takhar.)

In other words, the answer to Wilson’s why is not much more compelling than “because.”

No wonder Wilson suspects he’s being discriminated against. But discrimination is a tricky thing.

Under the Canadian Human Rights Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been granted.

One could argue, however, the MTO is not guilty of discrimination because it applies the rule equally to all Ontario residents.

But one could also argue that seeing as the other drivers from other provinces are not required by Ontario to submit to annual testing as of age 65 the practice is in fact discriminatory.

Perhaps the question that Al Wilson should really be asking is whether the MTO believes drivers aged 65 and older from Ontario are any less likely to get into traffic accidents. Perhaps this sort of question would elicit a more “compelling” answer.

– Ingrid Phaneuf can be reached at iphaneuf@trucknews.com or (416) 510-6896.


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