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OBAC Pleased MTO is Reopening Discussions on Senior Commercial Driver Testing

OBAC Pleased MTO is Reopening Discussions on Senior Commercial Driver Testing

OTTAWA, Ont. (December 23, 2011) -- The Owner-Operator's Business Association of Canada (OBAC) is pleased that Ontario's Minister of Transportation, Bob Chiarelli, has agreed to reopen discussions surrounding the issue of age-based testing for commercial drivers aged 65 and older.

In a letter to OBAC, Minister Chiarelli indicated he intends to proceed with a review of Commercial Driver Licence Renewal requirements for senior drivers. In the letter, Minister Chiarelli said he believes commercial driver licence renewal can be made less onerous for senior drivers without compromising safety. He as asked his Parliamentary Assistant, Vic Dhillon (MPP, Brampton West), to lead the review.

Since 2007, OBAC has been urging the MTO to dispense with the practice of forcing safe and experienced senior drivers to complete an entry-level driver's road test as a means of requalifying their Class A commercial driver's licence. OBAC believes there are more effective and less onerous ways to of safely determining fitness to continue driving and MTO has expressed interest in exploring some of the alternatives OBAC has proposed.

"Through a succession of ministers, OBAC has gone to MTO recommending it does away with the road test for senior drivers, replacing it with a more suitable means of evaluating driver skills, cognitive ability, and regulatory knowledge," says OBAC Executive Director, Joanne Ritchie. "Forcing a driver with perhaps 30 or 40 years of experience to complete the entry-level driver's exam does nothing to test for conditions that could be associated with aging."

OBAC also recommended that the current written test be revised to more accurately test a commercial driver's technical and regulatory knowledge.

In his letter, Minister Chiarelli announced some minor changes to the requalification process for senior drivers, which OBAC believes demonstrates the Minister is aware of the problem and is willing to work toward an appropriate long-term solution. They include:

  • Regulated fees such that senior commercial drivers pay a reduced road test fee of only $14 instead of the normal $75.

  • Senior commercial drivers may use automatic transmissions for their annual road tests.

  •  The air brake portion of the practical test has been amended so that senior commercial drivers can use diagrams to describe the process and demonstrate their comprehension of the air brake test.

In on-going discussions with MTO, OBAC has proposed an immediate moratorium on the road-test requirement of the re-testing process until new legislation comes into effect, provided the results of a senior driver's medical written tests meet the requirements, and his or her driving record indicates a safe driving history.

"This would be a step toward righting the blatant double standard of age-based testing, and it can be done quickly, as was done with extending the expiry date for licenses that expired during the 2009 labour dispute with SERCO drive test examiners," Ritchie says. "The road test is the most costly and inconvenient element of retesting for senior drivers, and does nothing to test for conditions that could be associated with the effects of aging."

OBAC is anxious to begin work establishing a new testing policy for safe, senior drivers, and looks forward to working with Mr. Dhillon and MTO on this project in the New Year. 

For more information on OBAC's policy regarding age-based driver testing, please see the OBAC "Age Page."

To read Minister Chiarelli's letter to OBAC, click here.