BOWMANVILLE, Ont. – It’s no secret that trucking has a much higher number of older workers when compared to other industries, with many driving well past the age of 65. Among their peers, these older drivers tend to be highly-respected for both their longevity and their skill behind the wheel. Yet once truckers reach senior status in Ontario, they’re not met with accolades and celebration. An annual road test is the prize for drivers over 65 in order for them to maintain their commercial licences.
Considering most of these elder drivers have spent the majority of their lives behind the wheel of a big rig, it’s not surprising that many find this requirement insulting, not to mention pricey. To throw a little more salt on the wound, four-wheelers in Ontario aren’t required to take another test until they’re 80 years old and even then it’s only a written test. But the government is staunch in its position that because of the number of “high risk” scenarios a trucker faces each day, stricter and more frequent testing is needed. Truck News stopped by the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop in Bowmanville, Ont. to see if drivers think the government has the greater good in mind or if truckers are being scrutinized unfairly.
Glen Grieve, a driver with Line-Drive Transportation in Windsor, Ont., says the testing rule is a terrible double standard, and noted that truckers are some of the safest drivers on the road today.
“I can’t see how a 65-year-old who drives for a living is a greater threat than an 80-year-old behind the wheel of a car,” he says. “It should be the same no matter what. It should apply to everybody.”
Tom Wisener, a driver with Dover Transport in Dover, Ohio, says that while the US has similar rules to Ontario’s car-driving seniors, the road test for seniors doesn’t make a lot of sense.
“I don’t understand why that is because they don’t unlearn those skills. If anything, they get better at what they’re supposed to be doing,” says Wisener, a driver of 28 years. “Why would you have to retake a driving test unless they figure you’re mentally unstable?”
Wisener notes that if anything, a driver’s eyesight is more likely to go before their ability to drive. “Sixty-five is a little early for a lot of people. They’re still capable and they’re still competent.”
Pierre Michaud, a driver from Quebec who has been trucking for eight years was one of the few people Truck News spoke with who actually thought the road test was a good idea. However, Michaud said that in the spirit of fairness truck drivers and car drivers should each be taking an annual road test after age 65.
Mark Mitchell, a driver with E.G. Gray Transport in Peterborough, Ont., says that 65 is a bit early for testing a trucker’s ability to drive and says testing should be based on the individual.
“If they’re physically able, I don’t see the need for them to drive a test,” Mitchell says. “They should put the bar a little higher – maybe 70 or 75. I see in the States there are a lot of guys who still drive when they’re 75 or older.”
Have your say
This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.