Ontario introduces restricted Class A licence

Road test in a pickup no longer a route to driving multi-axle, air-braked tractor trailers.

TORONTO — Ontario has taken steps to ensure that Class A licensed drivers tested in the province are qualified to operate traditional tractor-trailers. Beginning June 16, drivers who pass a Class A road test using a smaller truck-trailer combination, such as a pickup truck pulling a large recreational, horse, or utility trailer, will be issued a restricted (R) Class A licence. Those drivers will be prohibited from driving larger, more complex tractor-trailers.

Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation announced the introduction of the new restricted Class A licence on April 24, 2008. A public education period is in effect until June 16, 2008, the date the new rules become effective.

The restrictive ‘R’ licence prohibits drivers from operating motor vehicles pulling double trailers, or any vehicle with an air-brake equipped trailer. Nor will any ‘R’ restricted Class A driver be allowed to provide driver instruction to another person on a vehicle requiring full Class A privileges.

Truck owners will be responsible for making sure that their drivers have the right licence for the vehicle configuration they operate. The licence condition code will appear on the appropriate documents, i.e. the driver’s licence and driver record searches. As well, the front of a Class A driver’s licence shows the ‘R’ code in the licence Restrictions/Conditions field, while the back of the driver’s licence with an ‘R’ condition will have a brief description, i.e., ‘Veh. Restriction’.


The province has introduced a new offence for vehicle owners who permit a person to operate a motor vehicle in contravention of a licence condition.

To qualify for a full (unrestricted) Class A licence, applicants will need to show up for the test with a tractor-trailer equipped with all the following: a manual transmission; a fifth wheel coupling; a single trailer having an overall length of at least 45 feet; and a full air brake system on both the tractor and the trailer.

Licensed drivers with an existing restricted Class A can have the restriction removed by paying the appropriate fees and passing a Class A road test in a vehicle that satisfies the new requirements — written, vision, or medical tests would not be required.

Existing Class A licence drivers will retain their full Class A privileges. However, those drivers who require road testing for renewal or for driver improvement reasons may be downgraded to an R restriction if they don’t use the appropriate vehicle for the road test.

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