The Ontario (Canada) Ministry of Transportation next spring will cease annual testing of provincial school bus drivers when they reach age 65 that has caused controversy among local student transporters.
The Ontario School Bus Association (OSBA) announced the change to members, adding that it has been opposed to the annual behind-the-wheel and written tests because its position was that using arbitrary ages to determine testing is not effective in identifying age-related driving problems. OSBA called the requirement an "aggravation and annoyance" to the many excellent drivers and that the requirement was a "tipping point" in leading many of these same drivers to forfeit their B and E class licenses for transporting passengers.
OSBA lobbied the ministry to make changes and said it learned from the provincial goverment in February of the intent to amend the requirement. Then, last week, OSBA received a letter from Minister Bob Chiarelli that confirmed the regulation change will go into effect on April 1. After that date, drivers ages 65 to 79 holding that hold a Class A, B, C, E, or F license will no longer have to take an annual road test and written test. Instead, a written test will only be required every five years as part of the cyclical renewal process.
However, OSBA pointed out, drivers who accumulate three points or has one “at-fault” collision (regardless of the type of vehicle driven) the driver will be called in for a written test and road test. Drivers ages 80 and over holding licence class A, B, C, E, or F will be required to pass a written test and road test annually, OSBA added.
"There is no change to the medical requirements. Drivers will still be required to pass a medical annually from age 65 onwards," OSBA explained in a recent newsletter. "OSBA supports the change as it uses a performance based approach which is more fair and equitable than the current age-only approach. We believe it addresses our industry’s concerns without any compromise to road safety."
In other news, OSBA said Minister Chiarelli confirmed last week that a regulation on the banned use of hand-held cell phones and other mobile communication devices including two-way radios is being amended to extend an exemption for school bus drivers another five years until January 2018. The ban took effect in October of 2009 but allowed the use of two-way radios until January 2013.