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80-year-old Razorback legend continues the fight

After being forced to resit his truck licence test last month – and passing with flying colours – Razorback legend Spencer Watling is continuing to fight for uniformity across state borders when it comes to licensing for older drivers.

Licensing laws for older drivers differ greatly depending on where you live, with the NSW system being the toughest.

Currently in NSW, once an MC licensed driver turns 70, they are required to take annual driving tests and medical assessments, at their own expense. All classes of heavy vehicle drivers are required to undertake annual medical tests from the age of 75 and annual driving tests from the age of 80.

Older driver licensing rules for each state.

Spencer – who was one of the five drivers who instigated the Razorback Blockade in 1979 – turned 80 on March 28.

He resat and passed his HC licence test on April 4. And while it was an easy test for someone who’s been driving trucks for over 60 years, he doesn’t believe it’s fair that older truck drivers in NSW have to go through more hoops than those in other states – at their own expense.

“To do the test every year costs up to $1500 to hire a truck if you don’t own one. We retired years ago so we don’t have a truck and had to hire one,” said Spencer. “And most older truckies only want to keep their licence for social events like hay runs and charity convoys.”

And the cost to do that test every year is out of reach for some. “We were fortunate that we had a very good friend who paid for Spencer to do the test. We’re aged pensioners, so if they take you out and fail you, you’ve lost all that money.

“We have another friend who turns 80 at the end of the year and he said he doesn’t think he can afford to take the test, because he’ll have to hire the truck. And he just has a small truck he uses for Crawlin the Hume and that sort of thing.”

Spencer says the licensing assessor took him out for about two and a half hours to complete the test.

While Spencer says he was lucky to get a good licence assessor, he and his wife Gloria Watling have heard from other older drivers that this isn’t always the case.

“We’ve heard that that some licensing assessors treat older people with contempt,” said Gloria.

Spencer and Gloria have written to NSW Premier Chris Minns, Minister for Roads John Graham and Minister for Transport Jo Haylen.

Gloria explained, “Their response was that they do this for safety. For the last five years, Spencer has done all the medicals and passed with flying colours. NSW is the only state making truckies do this driving test after they turn 80.

“We explained how older truck drivers would not even try to keep their HC licence if their doctor and eye specialist told them they were unfit to drive a truck.

“It’s an issue for so many older people who just want to be able to drive if they are fit to do so.”

Spencer added, “All we’re asking the MPs is for all states to be in line. We want to see the ruling changed to make NSW in line with other states.”


The post 80-year-old Razorback legend continues the fight appeared first on Big Rigs.

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