Dear Owner//Driver

B-DOU­BLE LI­CENCE AT 70

Owner Driver - - Owner / Driver -

I got my usual no­tice from the NSW Roads and Mar­itime Ser­vices (RMS) to get a med­i­cal for my B-dou­ble li­cence.

On the no­tice it also said I was to take a driv­ing test as I was 70 year­sold.

So I did some re­search on­line, read up on road rules, and found that if I didn’t pass the first time I could have two more at­tempts.

My boss ar­ranged a truck for me. I was told sto­ries about how picky the test is, so I de­cided to use an auto as most of my work is with autos any­way.

I fronted up on the day and be­gan the test, ner­vous as hell and straight away be­gan mak­ing mis­takes.

The tester was good, giv­ing clear di­rec­tions on where I was to go and what I had to do. I was told to turn right at the next set of lights, so I sussed out the traf­fic to make the turn safely when sud­denly the tester said, “Stop, you have a red ar­row,” so I stopped, but I was over the stop line. Au­to­matic non-pass.

I may make some ex­cuses for things that hap­pened but I ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity for not pass­ing, it was en­tirely my own fault. So, we con­tin­ued on and went through the whole test where I made some more er­rors.

Back at the of­fice, it was ex­plained to me that I had failed the re­verse park test (stu­pid­ity on my part), did not check my mir­rors enough, not hav­ing my in­di­ca­tor on for five sec­onds be­fore I pulled away from the kerb, didn’t put the four ways on when I re­versed.

Also, ap­par­ently at one round­about I didn’t in­di­cate as I left the round­about and then “not sat­is­fac­to­rily op­er­at­ing the ve­hi­cle con­trols”. I found that this means I had taken my hand off the steer­ing wheel.

Another ex­cuse, if you don’t mind, is I had driven a man­ual truck to the city where I did this test then changed to another truck with three-pedal auto. Ev­ery time I used the clutch, I au­to­mat­i­cally reached down to grab the gear lever.

You can lose up to five points, so I was over that limit.

By now you are prob­a­bly think­ing “this bloke is hope­less,” but don’t worry, I was think­ing the same thing. It was de­mor­al­is­ing.

At the age of 70 you are deemed by the NSW Gov­ern­ment to be un­fit to drive a B-dou­ble, so if you want to con­tinue to do so you must pass a driv­ing test as if you have never had a B-dou­ble li­cence be­fore, no mat­ter what your driv­ing record says, or your boss or any­one else for that mat­ter.

What hap­pened to me then was dev­as­tat­ing.

I was asked to ring my boss and get some­one to come and pick up the truck as I had lost my truck li­cence. Be­ing naïve I had thought I could keep my li­cence ’till I had three tries at pass­ing.

This was re­ally hard for me now. My work­ing life came to an abrupt stop. Not that I thought I would still be work­ing at my age, but a se­ries of un­for­tu­nate events meant that the part-time job I had was a big help fi­nan­cially.

I felt quite help­less and hope­less. Over 50 years of driv­ing trucks, I got my B-dou­ble li­cence in 1990. All gone.

I made another ap­point­ment for three weeks’ time, three weeks in which I went through a range of emo­tions from grief to de­nial to anger and back again. Sleep­less nights over what I’d done wrong and how to rec­tify it. In a word, trauma.

The sec­ond time I lost three points and thought I was home and hosed, ex­cept that I was told that at one round­about I had en­tered when a ve­hi­cle was al­ready on said round­about and that ve­hi­cle had to brake to al­low me through. Not giv­ing way means an auto non-pass.

The fact I didn’t think I had done any­thing wrong made me doubt my­self and I won­dered if I was ca­pa­ble.

Another bout of anger and de­pres­sion, but my boss stood by me and so we agreed that I would try again.

Third time lucky, no points lost and my MC li­cence re­turned.

I am not happy with the NSW laws that caused me such trauma. I ab­so­lutely agree that I needed a re­fresher course be­fore my test, but if I could af­ford to go and get an in­struc­tor, I wouldn’t need my part­time job.

As the NSW Gov­ern­ment pays a tester to go with you three times, how about a re­fresher course the first time so you know what is re­quired?

As the law stands, I think it is ageist and un­nec­es­sar­ily stress­ful.

Driv­ers in my po­si­tion may be a mi­nor­ity, but I would be in­ter­ested in any feed­back.

Jim Camp­bell Cul­cairn, NSW

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