In Yourview, Toronto Star Wheels, February 6th, 2010, several writers complained about the deteriorating levels of fitness and skills exhibited by senior drivers as they age. Many boomer-aged offspring of these Octogenarian drives face a real dilemma: should they let Pop or Mom continue to drive, even if they put themselves, or others at risk on Ontario’s highways?
Recent crashes in Vaughan claiming the lives of teenagers, and 15 GTA pedestrians within the first 2 weeks of 2010 have spawned a call for better training and testing and much needed, immediate action to toughen up training and testing standards. Current testing of seniors regarding road tests are withheld from seniors annually, as they turn 80, for pure political reasons. Only if 65+ aged
drivers are involved in an at-fault collision, or, if seniors perform poorly on their vision, and written test, once they achieve the ripe old age of 80, then the officials at the Ministry of Transportation, and their agents at Drivetest are interested in seeing them for a road test of their skills.
Graduated Licensing was introduced to Ontario in April of 1994. It mandates ALL new drivers to Ontario write a simple written test (G1), and undergo a simple city test (G2) and a highway test, to graduate to a full G license , within a 5-year period. Teenagers can get their G1 on achieving their 16th birthday, after a simple vision test, and pop-quiz of 40 questions, with a minimum score of 32 out of 40. With driver training, they can achieve their G2 license after 8 months, and now legally drive alone, at night, on the freeway, in mid-winter conditions, in either automatic or standard transmission. Whether they receive adequate training is the question! One year later, our hypothetical teenager, now aged 17 years, 8 months old, can apply for the G-highway test. A simple reiteration of the G2 city test, (15 minutes), plus merging on-off the highway, and “voila”, no more testing from the Ministry for another 62 years!
The next 62 years, unfortunately may greatly affect us on the road: you, me, our kids, our parents, and our loved ones. Is the Ministry negligent in putting us all at risk due to improperly trained, and improperly tested drivers on our roadways? I am a G1/G2/G training specialist. I routinely renew between 3-5 licenses yearly in order to teach, and maintain my “Approved Driving School Status”. To maintain an MTO approval, I further need to pay for licenses to teach provincially, locally, both in the car, and in the classroom. I must maintain yearly checks on certification of all company cars, yearly audits checking business records, background checks of all Instructors, criminal searches, compliance checks for all full-course students, renewals of: business license, owner/operator’s license, provincial license, demerit point records check and finally proper insurance checks. All approved schools must pay premiums for a minimum coverage of $2 million insurance liability. We driving instructors are routinely charged 500-600% more than our domestic driven family cars in order to teach an applicant.
I was shocked to learn that most truck driving instructors do not need to uphold a driving instructor’s license, nor have specific training to instruct. They need only have the category specific license to teach ie. A,B,D, etc. Perhaps this is one reason we see truckers become unprofessional drivers on our roads.
Yes, I believe ALL drivers should be tested at a high skill level every 5 years! Truly, if the new Minister of Transportation, Kathleen Wynne is serious about her Oath-of-Office, unlike old “knee-jerk” Bradley, whom is now demoted due to his inaction in handling the drivetest strike, she will enact prompt proper legislation protecting the privilege to drive on our public roadways! Ontario’s public deserves better drivers. Are we courageous enough, and willing to take the next step in our graduated licensing system: Should we have mandatory driver ed for all new drivers?
Should the current Liberal government enact mandatory testing for ALL drivers every 5 years? If we don’t, we have much to lose.