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Ageism at MTO

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Ageism at Ministry of Transportation Ontario, (MTO)

Ageism is defined as the “prejudice or discrimination against a particular age group and especially the elderly”. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has been recently accused of this discrimination (see internet stop elderly abuse), yet continue the policy of requiring people 80+ to take a written exam and drivers test to keep their license.

This test does not take in consideration a person’s driving record, just their age. Recently, anyone 70+ convicted of an accident is now required to take the three fold test – eye test, written test and driver’s test.

I know as I had my first accident in 55 years of driving in Dec. of 2016 when I was still 69 years old. This accident was due to unusual circumstances – I rented a big truck to move from my residence in Toronto and was charged with an illegal turn during which I did not see a parked car which was stopped illegally on a corner across from a subway stop.

As I had never had a lost a demerit point on my license which was a ‘pride’ thing, I pondered whether to admit my guilt, pay the ticket, and go forward with $110.00 fine and 2 points against my driving. This accident had nothing to do with age (I just retired from teaching forensic science and the biology of human aging at the University of Western Ontario), just circumstances of the event that in forensic science we call ‘context’. Eventually I decided to pay the fine in May of 2018 instead of defending it in court case. Had I known of the new discriminatory law about having an ‘at fault’ accident I definitely would have gone to court. In my opinion, the government’s lack of information regarding the consequences of being convicted (drivers test etc.) following an accident if your 70+ (the accident occurred when I was 69) I would have hired a lawyer for my defence.

I know that having a drivers licence is a ‘privilege not right’ but human rights also have to be protected. When I spoke to a magistrate long distance, not only was she rude but did not mention any of the consequences of pleading guilty. To quote” You will lose three (wrong!) points and $110.00. If the police do not show at the trial that is it! It is your choice. Had she indicated that I would be required to undergo testing I would have fought the ticket.

I am a busy retired researcher and emeritus professor (I have published 4 articles in the last year and have several more in review) and now have to undergo this testing. Unfortunately the examiners are mostly young and entitled (and have a common bias now) and their subjective observation (they will know I have had an accident but know nothing of my driving history . In this regard I have had a licence for 55 years never had an accident and have probably driven over 1 million kilometres {many on the 400 series} except that I am 70 years old.

This is in my view a human rights issue. We need studies to show the impact of MTO biases. I have had an aunt and uncle in their 80s who failed to pass the test, and never were told why? Neither ever had an accident or ticket and my uncle was an antique car dealer who travelled annually to Arizona (from the 1950s until 1980s) to pick up old cars to rebuild. He droves trucks for over 45 years.

The cancellation of licence, for no reason except that he was in his 80s resulted in severe depression, and ultimately ruined his reasons for living. All because some millennial subjectively decided to remove his licence. There is no accountability in governments. They should have designated individuals to test older drivers, so the MTO bias (this person is old therefore I can put anything down – in forensics it is referred to a prosecutors bias) can be removed.