Older NSW drivers get raw deal, says 74-year-old truckie

A 74-year-old interstate truckie has complained about the lack of consistency between the states in Australia when it comes to assessing fitness to drive a truck as you get older.

Norman Regan has been a truck driver for over four decades, but now that he’s over 70 – and because he has an address in NSW – he must take an MC driving test every year.

The rules are not the same in the other states that Regan drives through on his bi-monthly runs from Sydney to Darwin, and he’s frustrated.

“As far as I’m concerned, they’re discriminating against NSW MC drivers,” he told Big Rigs.

“If I was living in Queensland or the Northern Territory, I wouldn’t have to worry about this.

“Why are all the states not the same?”

Regan had to fork out $800 of his own money to hire a truck and trailer for his most recent driving test in mid-February, as well as taking time off work.

“This is the fifth time I’ve had to take this driving test since I turned 70, and every time I ask the examiner ‘Why do I have to do this?’

“They always say ‘We just want to see if you can still drive.’

“But I am still driving full-time with no issues! Shouldn’t that be enough proof?”

The truckie, who currently transports gas for Toll Group, said he has tried to complain to the relevant authorities but it has come to nothing.

“I contacted Transport for NSW and they just pass the buck.

“They send you here and there and you sit on the phone for ages.

“Some of the staff will tell me privately that they agree with me, but that there’s nothing they can do about it.

“There must be something they can do about it!”

Regan has no issues with taking a medical test and did his latest one before Christmas.

“I had a cataract, so I had to get that treated, but there were no other issues. I’m a safe driver.

“In some other states, you only have to do a driving test after the age of 85. I’d be fine with that.”

If Regan downgraded to a HC licence, he would only have to take a driving test every year once he turned 80 – but this would mean him losing his job, which requires an MC licence.

He said it can be hard finding work as an older driver, so he doesn’t want to take that risk.

“When you go for a truck driving job with some places and you’re on in years, they don’t want to take you on because they think you’re an insurance risk,” he said.

“They won’t say it to your face, but they’ll tell you ‘Oh, we’re full. We’ll take your name and get back to you.’ But they don’t.

“The company I work for now, they don’t discriminate. They don’t care what age I am as long as I can do the job.”

He said the strict rules in NSW are pushing experienced drivers off the roads.

“This is putting people out of work because I know some experienced drivers don’t want to go down there every year and be talked down to.

“I’ve always thought that if I wanted to retire from driving full-time, I could get a job doing one or two trips a month to subsidise my pension.

“But if I want to do that, I’d still have to pay to do this test every year.

“They say they are crying out for truck drivers, but they are pushing good drivers off the roads.”

Truckies’ advocate Rod Hannifey has been lobbying for change on this issue in NSW for many years.

He believes it’s unreasonable to expect an experienced truckie to jump through so many costly hoops, particularly in light of the dwindling pool of drivers.

“It’s just another thing to make it more difficult than it needs to be when we are struggling for drivers,” Hannifey said. “We’re saying as soon as they turn over one day, suddenly they’re not competent?

“Maybe there needs to be a little bit of context so if a bloke can’t show them a logbook that hasn’t been filled out in the last six months, maybe he needs to be tested because he’s not a current driver.

“If he can go in there and show them that the logbook has been filled out every day for the last six months and he’s still working full-time on the road.”

Road Freight NSW CEO Simon O’Hara said that given the shortfall of drivers in the state, and right around Australia, the state government needs to examine the “risk and reward” for the industry in making it “too strenuous” for those over 70 to maintain a heavy vehicle licence.

“What we have found is that the generations between the ages of 49 and 75 have the greatest experience and skill levels, and a lot of the time put new drivers in the shade in terms of how well and safely they manage vehicles,” O’Hara said.

“So, what we don’t want to see is a penalisation of experience, particularly if it relates to an approach that is ageist.”

RFNSW CEO Simon O’Hara said drivers between the ages of 49-75 usually have the greatest experience and skill levels.

When contacted by Big Rigs, a spokesperson for Transport for NSW said they cannot comment on individual cases.

However, they said they have a statutory obligation to ensure all licence holders are medically fit and competent to hold a driver licence. 

“In NSW, anti-discrimination legislation recognises the importance of assessing driver competency and supports the need for testing for older licence holders, which may vary based on the type of licence held.

“Driving a heavy vehicle, particularly a multi-combination, requires a high level of physical and mental skill, and due to their size heavy vehicles have a greater potential to cause significant road trauma.    

“The licensing laws, policies, and procedures recognise the increased risk associated with driving heavy vehicles and result in the different medical standards, BAC limits, medical assessments, and driving assessments for operators of these vehicles.”


  1. I am only 67 but what bugs me is having to pay out $160 for a medical certificate for my MC and that can be bought from any doctor to have them fill out the form .

    I want to see IQ testing & a mental assessment introduced into the public service on a yearly basis ,especially those who administer the transport industry & machinery in each State & Territory because many of their decisions are not of sound minds .

  2. rod makes a valid point. if your still doing the job everyday then you shouldnt need testing every year say make it every 2 or 3 years and of course if your doctor thinks you need to test then you get tested.

    also it should apply to car drivers too. their is more passenger vehicles on the road than heavy vehicles so the risk is higher.

    and it should be national then it would be fair for everyone.

    some road safety experts have called for mandatory refresher courses for all drivers every few years just to keep skills up to date especially road rules.

  3. NHVR are a joke they can’t make national laws for weights or dimensions log books the whole industry is a joke we are just cash cows for politicians and police. The most regulated industry around where no one has any idea

  4. Regarding having to do annual driving tests after 70 years old in NSW. Having a HC licence I wasn’t required to have driving tests ,but at 75 I was required to have a medical assessment annually. This involved appointments with several specialists and because I was away from my home base and had short notice of this requirement it would be difficult if not impossible to get appointments in time. Sò reluctantly I made the decision to downgrade my licence to a lower class that doesn’t have this requirement. In my case I was semi-retired and only drove trucks on a few occasions but experienced older MC drivers are being faced with expensive visits to specialists as well as time off work to undergo driving tests they don’t need. Medical assessment yes, if enough notice is given, but not driving tests where these drivers probably could out drive the assessor.

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