I was shocked to read about Ontario’s requirements for Class A road testing as it applies to senior commercial drivers, 65 and older. The fact that a road test is required at all is puzzling and it raises the possibility that the government is practicing age discrimination.
At the very least, it is putting into play a series of hurdles that are making it increasingly difficult for the senior commercial driver to keep working. As a senior driver fast approaching the age of questionable (in the eyes of MTO) ability, I strongly feel the unfairness of these new injunctions and suggest that a case for discrimination can indeed be made.
I say this after searching MTO’s Web site in vain for a statistical basis for imposing testing for senior commercial drivers in the first place. I couldn’t find anything, which is astounding given the awesome amount of statistical data the government presents in its annual road safety reports. I looked everywhere in these reports particularly at truck accidents, but the category did not include any information about driver age as a contributing factor to accidents. In fact, it did not include anything about driver age period.
But the most telling statistics show beyond question the age group most responsible for all collisions, fatal and otherwise, on Ontario highways. If you’re between 35 and 44 years old, you’re part of the age group that will add 100,000 road accidents to the year’s total. This compares to 38,000 collisions involving 21 to 24 year old drivers, and 40,000 involving drivers aged 55 to 64. Ontario drivers between ages 21 and 64, create a perfect bell curve showing their involvement in accidents according to age, the curve peaking at around 40 years old. Yes there are more drivers on the road between 35 and 44, but that doesn’t explain the whole picture.
And as for drivers aged 65 to 74? This group accounted for 19,100 road accidents, less than 20% of the number of accidents involving drivers 35 to 44 years old. As an aside, it’s interesting to note that due to population aging generally the number of licensed drivers 65 and older has increased 164% from 1980 to 2003, more than double the increase in the total number of licensed drivers in the province.
As for commercial, class A drivers 65 and older who represent a tiny percentage of this group? No data. So why are we being road tested and why is the government arbitrarily adding conditions to testing which clearly has little rationale in the first place? Well, age discrimination is certainly one possibility. That, plus ensuring a steady supply of new income for DriveTest, MTO’s privatized testing branch. •
David Hutchinson Via e-mail
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