Senior Ontario truck drivers balk at road test requirement

Hugh MacDonald’s career as a truck driver is coming to an abrupt and unexpected end.

The 68-year-old had planned to keep driving until next year, building on the 3 million miles he traveled over the last four decades. But that was before the ticket came. He was cited by an Ontario Ministry of Transportation officer for traveling 106 km/h on a stretch of Hwy. 7 with a posted limit of 80 km/h.

Sandy McDermid
Driver Sandy McDermid has for several years been campaigning against retesting thresholds for senior drivers in Ontario. (Photo: Supplied)

He paid the fine and accepted the three points on his licence. Then the ministry notified him that he had to complete a new vision, written and road test, or automatically be downgraded to a G licence that would limit him to driving a family car.

Any driver 65 or older who accumulates more than two points faces the same requirement.

“I wanted to go to next year,” MacDonald says of his retirement plans, partially delayed to offset the rising costs of a new home. “I don’t want to go through all the driving test and all that for another six to eight months [of work].”

The Almonte, Ont., trucker begrudgingly accepts the ticket, although he says he never received as much as a warning when previously traveling around 100 km/h on the route. But he thinks it’s unfair that senior drivers are held to a tougher standard. If he was under 65, he wouldn’t face another road test.

“It’s age discrimination,” MacDonald argues. “I can see if you have heart troubles, or vision, or something like that.” He doesn’t face such challenges.

His friend Sandy McDermid, a 65-year-old truck driver in nearby Carleton Place, has been campaigning against the rule for several years – and believes many senior citizens are unaware of the limits that exist.

“It should be fair across the board for everyone,” McDermid says. “To me, that’s discrimination.”

Ontario’s rules for aging drivers were actually relaxed in April 2013. Before those changes were introduced, senior commercial drivers faced annual vision, knowledge and road tests. The vision and knowledge tests are now required every five years.

A Driver Intervention Program that corresponded with the change requires vision, knowledge and road tests for those who receive a moving violation linked to a collision, or accumulate more than two demerit points.

The problem is the threshold, McDermid says.

Three points are accumulated through a single conviction linked to violations such as holding a handheld phone while driving, speeding 16-29 km/h over a posted limit, failing to yield the right of way, or failing to slow when passing a stopped emergency vehicle, among other issues.

But McDermid found little comfort in a letter campaign reaching out to Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney.

“Generally, senior drivers and commercial drivers are safe, responsible and experienced groups of road users,” Ryan Bailey of the Road Safety Policy Office and the Ministry of Transportation’s safety policy and education branch acknowledges in a written response to his concerns.

But collisions involving commercial vehicles are more likely than passenger cars to cause fatalities and serious injuries, Bailey adds in the email, noting the at-fault collision risks that some drivers demonstrate with age.

It won’t get any easier if McDermid is still working behind the wheel at the age of 80.

“Generally, senior commercial drivers between the ages of 65 and 79 are subject to periodic and trigger-based renewal requirements, while senior commercial drivers age 80 and above are subject to more stringent annual requirements,” Bailey writes.

“For those individuals with safe driving records, the test requirements were significantly reduced, and the road test requirement was eliminated until the age of 80. Those drivers who exhibit high-risk behaviour are now subject to the same testing requirements as were previously in place.”

There is a temporary reprieve for those in the higher age bracket.

Renewal requirements for drivers 80 and over – including vision tests and group education sessions – have been temporarily waived during the pandemic, a ministry spokesman tells Today’s Trucking. The re-testing required for commercial drivers from 65 to 79 continues under health protocols such as wearing face masks during road tests, sanitizing hands, and sometimes opening vehicle windows to ensure proper airflow.

Once commercial drivers reach the age of 65, they also need to submit medicals every year. Those 46-64 need to submit the documents every three years. Younger drivers need medicals every five years.

John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, TruckTech, Transport Routier, Inside Logistics, Solid Waste & Recycling, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • Biggest mistake this driver made was taking the ticket and paying it. All drivers fight tickets. if he got it dropped he might not of gotten any points at all.
    Remember the cop might not of even showed up in court. Its your right to fight it and save your points and the companies CVOR points.

  • I have a physical and a cardio assessment yearly at my cost because of a heart issue in 2005 . Just re wrote AZ this year with no problem. I would like to see the stats on age groups for some of these ridiculous accidents you see. I dont believe its us old guys causing them.

  • As a member of the afore mentioned group( 68 years old) I can understand the requirements required of me. But seeing the quality of so called truckers on the road these days offends me greatly. MTO should be taking a hard look at all drivers. I have learned by experience.

  • I am 66 former long haul driver, I put my self through school driving trucks. No claims no accidents. Former ice road driver, once I hit 65 years off age I basically was told we don’t want you. My life long experience means nothing. If I have a clean record why do I need to re write my test. Unless my health changes why do I need to go through so much trouble. The license and doctors cost and trying to make an appointment is hell for a driver.

  • I think it’s completely backwards. I believe they should be retesting new commercial drivers that accumulate too many points.

  • I can see having to do that if the driver Has a long history of infractions but to have to go through the pre trip and road test because of one ticket is ridiculous!!! I lost a driver for the same reason he got 3 points and had to do it all !! And just because he didn’t do his pre trip in the order the ministry wants he failed!! This man can back trucks up better then most can drive!! This is why we are lacking professionals in the industry!!

    • Why do 100 in an 80, I know you will say others do it, but forget the sheep mentality and use some integrity.

      • Exactly. I’m 77, still have my licence, but I am very careful when I drive to stay fairly close to the speed limit. I never drive after taking a drink either. Drivers, protect your licence; it’s your income that’s at stake.

  • Nothing but a money grab.
    Why do you think the classification of licences came into play.
    Privatizing the process just made the company more greedy.
    A couple of renewals ago, I failed the air brake test and the woman told me there are 10 different tests and you never get the same one twice.
    All they did was change the questions slightly to confuse you.
    Greedy bastards.

  • In different province different law and Ontario to my knowledge is the worst that do discriminations against older commercial drivers.

  • Shouldn’t we be more concerned with the fact that he was travelling 26km OVER the speed limit. And admits to regualrly driving 20kms OVER the speed limit on that same stretch of highway. I have no sympathy. I am a Safety and Compliancy person at a trucking firm. Do not break the law and there will be no penalty, no demerit points and no issues. It isn’t that he was ticketed for going 5kms over. We are talking about 26kms over the speed limit. This is what gets people killed and gets the trucking industry a bad reputation. It is not descrimination, there are many studies that prove a person’s reflexes slow down with age and to be bold enough or ignorant enough to be going that much over the speed limit is disgusting and he deserves to have to retake his test. And as for whether or not he was aware of the consequences of 3 point on his licence, he should have been aware, it’s his profession, he should know the regulations that can affect his livelihood. If he had caused an accident and killed someone going that much over the speed limit, this article would be a whole different tale.

  • The province of Ontario has failed the trucking industry for the last 20 years. The professionalism, safety and service has been degraded despite advances in technology and equipment. The various Ontario governments have continually introduced legislation and policies that have failed putting the industry at the low level it is today. The sad skill level on Ontario’s roadways (all drivers not just commercial) only re-enforces the failure of the MTO & Ontario’s governments to govern the industry and province in the best interest of it’s citizens. Driving skill, knowledge and courtesy continue to decline. Discriminating against the most skilled, safest and professional of Ontario’s drivers is another step down on our journey to the bottom as far as driving in general and the trucking industry are concerned.

  • I was once a Ontario based driver, back in 1988 got my A licence , 3 months afterwards got noticed I needed to wear corrective lenses, I responded by saying I don’t need glasses, you don’t know what your talking about, Ontario stand , get corrective lenses or get downgraded, , bought a pair of glasses thru them on the dash, in 2003 went to the eye doctor 20/20. Vision, even the optimistic in Watertown Ontario could figure why I had the condition on my licence, Ontario your still stuck on stupid, as for my licence, I’m now out west , no corrective lenses and clean drivers abstract

  • Stop whining, he broke the law and now he’s paying for it. If he didn’t go almost 30km over the speed limit he wouldn’t be crying. I have no sympathy for him.

  • What’s the truck drivers in Ontario need to do is protest this discrimination against 65 year old drivers if everybody got together and went home for two weeks and not deliver any goods in Ontario maybe the government would listen to the drivers till then the government don’t care about the trucking industry they always praise and there’s a pandemic the truckers did a good job when that’s all done and over with we are nobody out here we are at the bottom of the barrel and always will be so truckers let’s all think about this and get together and shut her down for two weeks then we will get results they will not discriminate against us any more. The transport Canada guys and the ministers of transportation they don’t listen to truck drivers they only listen to big companies for instance like the E log change the truckers would like when we use personal conveyance so we can keep our trailer with us just to go 10 minutes down the road to a truckstop to the washroom yes as usual as truckers are always fighting a losing battle. thank you

  • The whole trucking industry has became nothing but misery for most drivers .. It is even worse for drivers over the age of 65 … They say that there is a shortage of good drivers and then they do there very best to drive the good drivers out of the industry .. I am going on 65 and will not bother renewing my licence … It is just a sickening circumstance .. one after the other … Godspeed to all the drivers that stay in it and try to cope with unfair and stupid regulations .. The wages are poor and the work is horrible ..

  • Thank you for this. As a new motorcyclist I find myself tail gated by big trucks constantly on highway 35, while maintaining I believe a healthy speed of 90 to 94. One older driver chewed me out at the Lindsay gas station for “driving like a bleep”. I respect our truckers but the industry is not what it used to be, and perhaps it’s that bitterness leading to this entitlement. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time folks.

  • Got a BS ticket in Quebec. Had about 35000 pounds, sorry, I’m a dinosaur, on the truck. Hadn’t passed a single vehicle unless they were off the road. from St. Hubert to Beauharnois, moving at the flow of traffic at 105. From nowhere this QPP type shows up and claims I am doing 117 k/ph on level ground all with a speed governed truck.
    Gave me the ticket, then told me to get out as he was going to search for drugs, guns, alcohol or human trafficking. Refused, told him to detain me and get a warrant as he had no reasonable or probable grounds. Said I watched too much TV and left.
    Was advised I’d never get a fair trial in Quebec as I don’t speak French, 700 mile round trip to fight it plus possibly an overnight stay. First ticket in 42 years, I paid it. Big mistake.

    Had, in the middle of a pandemic, 90 days to do a medical, write the A test and arrange a road test which was nothing short of a miracle. First ticket of any sort in 42 years, didn’t count diddly with the MTO, who were acting on Quebec’s request and if I failed, down graded to a G licence and lose my job.
    I passed. Also got a surprise “fine” from Quebec of $598.00 for having a non-working speed limiter and if I wanted to appeal that, I would have to submit the vehicle for an inspection and it would be held for 7 days.

    If I was under 65, no medical or any testing is required, just age discrimination.

  • The fact that Hugh MacDonald admits to regularly exceeding the posted speed limit by 20kmh is reason enough for getting nailed with a ticket.
    For all we know it was purely through the generosity and tolerance of the issuing officer that MacDonald didn’t get tickets during previous fly-by events.
    But that’s another story…

  • I don’t agree for any one to brake the law. But the majority of accident cases by Yonge an experience 20/20 visions no hart conditions new drivers. I do about 5 test a day for new drivers and I cannot believe how they pass their driving test . so Sade

  • I believe that the point of the situation has been misunderstood by most people.
    First of all, Hugh is upset about the ticket that he received and the circumstances of it. That is why it was paid. The problem is that this gave him 3 points on his license.
    When you receive a ticket and given points on your license, What happens? Nothing happens.
    Unless you are over 65 years old and have a class Az Drivers license. Now you receive a notice that you have to come in and be treated like a new driver. A vision test, written test and a drivers road test with a tractor and trailer within a 60 day period.
    All of the comments seem to think that is OK
    If he was under 65 then this would not have happened and he would not have to go through this whole situation but still be able to drive with his 3 points on his license even if he would have gotten a ticket driving his personal car.

    Everyone is on this kick about how people are treated and needs to be equal across the board, then why is this not considered discrimination against seniors.

    If this is not discrimination against seniors that have a commercial license of Az to get more than 2 points on their license, then lets make the same rules for every driver. If you get more than 2 points on your license, then you should receive a notice from the MOT to book an appointment to come in and pass the vision, written and road test

    This law is bias, They say that commercial drivers over 65 have more accidents but no one can show me the stats regarding this claim. Why do you think the insurance companies are not allowing drivers that just get their license to just jump in a truck and drive.

    I go back to the beginning of my statement. Make it the same for everyone. If you do not have to go to the MOT unless you have 7 points on your license, then make it that way across the board

    Again, WHY ARE SENIOR DRIVERS OVER 65 BEING DISCRIMINATED AGAINST

  • Totally unfair for seniors drivers.
    Why does Ontario have demerit point systems?
    Are they in bed with Insurance Companies?

    Once commercial drivers reach the age of 65, they also need to submit medicals every year. Those 46-64 need to submit the documents every three years. Younger drivers need medicals every five years. I
    f so concern about health why not have it as a yearly check-up?
    instead of individuals paying for it.?

  • I am pretty sure id sooner meet or have him behind me than half the other young guys who tailgate pass in corners uphill through town in turning lanes oh and meeting them over the yellow line absolutely absurd. Been a driver 40 plus years now i dont even want to tell anyone that i drive truck and no not because of my actions

  • Aren’t some of us short-sighted and narrow-minded? Lord.! 26 kms. above a ‘flexible limit’…his income is in jeopardy. Who will support his dependents Hardcases?
    A society that likes to think of itself as progressive cannot apply policy to one group in exclusion to other groups. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. That’s what discrimination is, plain and simple. Legal terms like ‘reasonable’ …( reasonable to who?)..and ( my favourite ) …’In the public interest’ is nothing more than rationalizing discrimination.
    Oh yeah, but you are a professional. Paid like a monkey, no official designation and no professional association or governing body.
    Shameful behaviour.
    Anybody seen that load of toilet paper? Was supposed to be here Tuesday.

    • Guess you mean like the motorcycle helmet thing that gives a pass if you practice a certain religion, or the one that’s now defunct calling for emission test but only if you lived below a particular highway.

  • That is the problem today in trucking. We the driver became puppets and it’s a direct connection to deregulation. Also the inability to unionize if an over the road driver prevents the Teamsters from representing a group of drivers that can’t meet and organize timely meetings.So large companies have abused the driver for so many years and to put a bail in their coffin have foreign drivers taking their jobs and imposing unrealistic regulations.

  • In My honest opinion, if One has and is exercising a Safe Driving format over His Career there should be No Age Descrimination and Protocol against Older Drivers. These experienced are the Driver’s I’d want in the Driver’s Seat of My Truck not some Lesser Experienced Cowboy with less Miles Forward than some of Us have Backing Up. I’d hazard to guess that if not 100% of these Politicians make these ridiculous Polices have need been involved First Hand in the Trucking Industry. Not to mention how to Start a Big Truck or find First Gear out of 18. I’m 72 and would go up against anyone My Younger. Over Exaggerated Rules and Regulations are depriving the Trucking Industry of Fantastic, Well experienced and Seasoned Professionals. The Airline Industry a few years back made the same mistake Mandating Mandatory Retirement at age 60. Upon realizing the Loss of their most valuable Asset rescinded that idea but the damage was already realized. Our Ministry of Transport should be required to have been in the Trucking Industry and hold with it a Safe Record, first hand, in the Industry. It’s evident with all the recent accidents that these Older Experienced Driver’s are the Industry’s Greatest Assets.

  • I have read everyone’s comments. Through all of your comments, most of you miss the point. That point is that a law exists that unfairly discriminates against a certain demographic.
    It’s not that he was driving over the posted speed limit. Had another driver even 1 week shy of 65 done the same stupid thing and paid the ticket, not a thing would have happened to them, other than the 3 points against his license and a good hit to the wallet.
    It’s said that the law is an ass. Laws are supposed to be made for the good of society and be applied equally to all. This law, like Ontario’s Motorcycle Helmut law and exemption, target and treat differently, one demographic of people over the rest of society. Both need to be repealed.
    There are mechanisms in place already through the medical profession, that require a doctor to report to the MOT, a variety of medical issues.
    Sometimes a person’s cognitive functions can take a rapid decline. Sometimes doctors think they are doing their patients a favour by not reporting medical issues.
    I have been at a testing facility to renew my licence and witnessed first hand, a driver who would not be getting his license renewed. This was due to the fact that he could no longer mentally comprehend the questions.
    I am in full agreement that the same requirements be put on all drivers, regardless of the class of license they hold.
    However, I’m not holding my breath. For the same reason that, several years ago, the move to have people who pull the tow behind travel trailers, you know, the ones that scare the hell out of you to pass because they’re all over the road, upgrade their license failed, so too would making the same requirements of all motorists. That is because the general public would create shush an outcry that the political party that would bring those things into law, would soon be voted out, and we all know where the true political will is. That’s to keep their own asses safe, never mind safety or what’s right.