(Sept. 25, 2012) — The Ontario Trucking Association is applauding the announcement from the province’s Minister of Transportation, Bob Chiarelli, that the government is moving forward with changes to its Senior Commercial Driver Licence Renewal Program for drivers 65-79 years old.
The changes, which for the most part reflect proposals from OTA, will be available on-line shortly via Ontario’s e-laws site and will be effective April 1, 2013.
The changes include:
1. The annual road test requirement for senior commercial drivers has been replaced with a road test only in the event of an at-fault collision or the accumulation of 3 demerit points.
2. The written knowledge test renewal requirement has been changed from annual to every 5 years.
3. The written air brake test cycle will be aligned with the written knowledge test cycle and a practical air brake test will only be required when a road test is required.
4. These requirements will be extended to Class D drivers.
However, the annual medical reporting requirements for Senior Class A Drivers will remain part of the program.
“This is great news for senior truck drivers and for the industry,” says OTA President David Bradley. “It sends a clear message that senior drivers with good driving records will no longer be discriminated against simply because of their age.
“OTA had been leading the charge on behalf of the industry over the past several years to make it easier for safe experienced drivers to renew their licences. We commend Chiarelli for being the minister to finally drive this one home.”
There was one fly in the ointment, however. In what MTO called a “parallel” amendment, the current downgrade policy has been changed for Class A, B and C drivers who fail, or fail to submit, a medical report. Whereas previously these drivers had been downgraded to a Class D licence, heretofore they will be downgraded to a Class A licence. (There will be no impact to drivers who have previously been downgraded from a Class A, B or C licence to a Class D licence). Currently, a medical is not required for a Class D licence.
OTA is concerned that some drivers may not submit medical information, not because they have a medical issue, but simply because they want to move to a shorter haul job. By dropping these drivers down to a Class G licence, some may become unemployable for a time. The association says MTO should provide further analysis of the scope of the problem they are trying to address and what the impact on the industry will be.