Older truckies unimpressed with NSW’s tougher MC licensing laws

older drivers

A 74-year-old truckie has told how he was forced to do three medical exams and a driving test every year after turning 70, because he lived in NSW.

Nick Tetley, who is originally from Nowra, about 160km south of Sydney, has since moved to Tasmania – and said life is a lot easier for older drivers over there.

“I’ve had no problems at all since I moved to Tassie,” said Nick Tetley, one of a growing number of truckies voicing their disapproval to NSW’s tougher laws around MC licence renewals for over-70s.

“I still have to do a medical every year [in Tasmania] for being over 60, and for basic fatigue management, but I don’t have to do a driving test.

“NSW is much more stringent compared to other states when it comes to rules for older drivers, and I don’t think it’s fair.”

Tetley suffered a minor heart attack five years ago, which was why he was made to undergo a third medical exam every year when he lived in NSW, but his health has bounced back and his driving has been unaffected.

What annoyed him most was the expense involved.

“I had to pay for everything. Three medicals, which were about $180 each, and the driving test which would probably cost me $1500.  You can’t claim that on tax and Medicare doesn’t cover it.”

On a practical level, it was also extremely difficult for Tetley – who has been on the road for 56 years –  to arrange his MC driving test.

He had to supply his own truck, and marry up his schedule with a qualified assessor who didn’t work on the only day Tetley was available.

“I just couldn’t do my test. It was like bashing my head against a brick wall.”

“NSW are standing alone with their strict rules – they should be consistent with the other states.”

Long-time MC holder Bill Mason, 73, agrees. He had been working in WA during Covid, driving quads and triple road trains, and living in Queensland until moving to NSW last year.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” said Mason who was also surprised to find that he would only need to drive an HC (single trailer) combination to renew his MC in NSW.

“It’s a major inconvenience and expense the over-70 MC drivers don’t need. If we meet medical conditions, then let’s just move on.

“I would have been far better off maintaining my licence in Queensland where I just have to do an annual medical.”

Mason said he enjoys the chance to jump into a truck for a few weeks at a time to top up his pension, but he’s now looking to move back to Queensland.

“They [NSW] just need change their rules. Because there is such a shortage of drivers it’s just an extra cost that we don’t need. We’re competent drivers.”

Former truckie Jason Kemp, who was also a truck driving instructor for 14 years until he gave it up last September, agreed that the NSW rules are far too strict, and also pointed that older drivers in NSW must do their driving test through a motor registry – but according to him, there are no motor registries on MC routes.

“When you do an aged driving test in NSW, you take a heavy combination truck to the motor registry and you pretend that you’re towing a B-double,” he explained.

He gave an example of a truck driver friend who lives 100km outside Bourke and has to travel to Dubbo for his annual test.

“He is 89 years old and carting cattle in a triple road train with no issues. But every year he has to take a single trailer, three quarters loaded, to Dubbo, and pretend that he’s pulling a B-double or a triple road train.

“You’d think he was in his 60s to look at him – he’s up and down off the trailers, running around.

“He’s fitter than a bloody 18-year-old. It’s not about age.”

Late last year, NSW truckie Rod Hannifey called for an overhaul of state laws for truck drivers wanting to retain their MC licence once they turn 70.

In his submission to a state parliamentary inquiry into the pressures on truckies and the impact on NSW, Hannifey told the committee that there are simply too many hoops to jump through, particularly when you consider how difficult it is for many fleets to find drivers today.

“I have no problem with the medical as we do one every year now, even though it can cost more than $400, but if you want to do part-time work, help a mate or simply keep driving, if you do not own a truck, you will have to hire one for the day at a substantial cost, as well as all the other costs,” Hannifey, 66, said at the time.


  1. Yes who says these so called instructors are testing you how do you know if they can drive it is pretty unfair to us older drivers that has made this country what it is these young ones think they know it all but look how many young ones are dieting on our roads because they get there licenses to young and once you are caught dui you should be off the road for 3 to 5 years and go to these accidents to see what happens when you do drugs or grog up the penalty’s for these offences the courts have to be more suvver no smack on wrist stuff and get rid of some of these stupid laws

  2. I’m 66 this year. I hold an open MC licence and have been driving heavy vehicles for more than 4 decades. I am also a qualified and licensed instructor and assessor currently working for an RTO delivering heavy haulage in the classroom, the workshop and in trucks. Having several Cert IV qualifications I am exempt from driving test until I’m 70. I require a medical every two years for my MC and bus licences. I’m, hopefully, passing on my extensive knowledge and experience to help new people into the transport industry. I have no plans to retire in the foreseeable. If, however, I’m forced into 2 medicals and an MC driving test every year, then I’ll take all my skills, knowledge and experience and choof off in the caravan. Industry’s loss.

  3. The industry will lose many experienced & much needed drivers if the checks & balances are not standardised. If the licence held is federal interstate, inconsistent legislation amongst states makes zero sense. Any evidence or data to justify their policy would be welcomed.

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