OTA recruiting drivers to challenge license retest rule

TORONTO — The Ontario Trucking Association is stepping up its campaign to get the province to change its age-based license retest rule and is looking to drivers to help drum up support.

The OTA is inviting all interested drivers to go to the association’s website (www.ontruck.org) and click on the button called: “Help End Discrimination Against Older Truck Drivers.” OTA is also encouraging all carriers to make their drivers aware of the website.

Currently, the provincial Ministry of Transportation requires Class A licensed drivers who turn 65 to pass an annual road and written commercial driver’s license test. No other North American jurisdiction has a similar requirement, and it is not part of the National Safety Code for trucks.

“These drivers deserve to be heard,” says David Bradley, president of the OTA. “So we have created a tool on the OTA web site which will allow drivers to easily identify who their MPP is simply by typing in their postal code, and retrieve the e-mail or mailing address so they can contact their MPP directly. We also provide a sample letter the drivers can use as they see fit and an OTA briefing note on the issue.”

In December 2006, the Ontario government made the arbitrary and discriminatory practice of enforced retirement at age 65 illegal. As the Minister of Labour said at the time, “your skills, ability, drive and determination do not stop once you turn 65. It (the legislation) recognizes that those who are 65 and older should enjoy the same right to earn a living, and contribute to society, as those who are younger.”

Since then, the OTA has been calling upon the MTO to end what the association calls a, “discriminatory, needless and costly” practice. While there have been many discussions on the issue, to date there has been no change in MTO policy.

According Bradley, the current MTO policy “is forcing good full-time, part-time and casual drivers, into unwanted, forced, retirement at the age of 65. It all seems very arbitrary.”

“Every week I hear from older drivers in or approaching this age category who want to keep working, who are as vibrant and hard-working as anyone else and the question is always the same: When is MTO going to change the rules for licence renewals?” says Bradley. “This is a legitimate question and one only the government can answer.”

While the OTA contends there is no evidence that a driver’s skills and knowledge deteriorate at 65, they do agree there are grounds to be concerned about the physical condition of older drivers. Keeping that in mind, the OTA recommended to the MTO back in 2006 that:

– a driver would be required to prove medical fitness every year after reaching the age of 65;
– the renewal period for a commercial driver’s licence upon reaching the age of 65 should be 2 years until the driver reaches the age of 71, and annually thereafter;
– upon renewal the driver would be required to pass the normal written examination and the written air brake examination. The driver would also be required to take a practical road examination and a practical air brake examination unless in the previous two years the driver has no more than: five demerit points; one preventable accident (as shown on the driver’s CVOR abstract); and, one CVSA Out of Service condition (as shown on the driver’s CVOR record).

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