Does the Ministry Care About My Driving?

No. Not really.  For the passed 15 years, the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario likes to contrive “Ontario’s roads are the safest in North America”.  During the passed 15 years, nearly 20,000 people have been killed outright in motor vehicle collisions, and more than 2 million motorists  sustain regular injuries ranging from soft tissue injuries, to permanent brain, and skeletal injuries, and paralysis.  How does one claim to make such a bold, brash statement that somehow these are the “safest roads in North America”. You would think that the Ontario government would indeed be interested in safety.  If we could eliminate yearly traffic collisions altogether, our economy would  eliminate its’ $9-Billion dollar yearly debt.  We wouldn’t have to pay for EMS responders, road repairs, hospitalization, insurance payouts (increases we all unfortunately must pay for), lost wages, physio-therapy, funeral costs, etc.  We still kill each other daily on Ontario’s highways, and are excused because this is the way it’s “supposed” to be. For example, last year, we “only” killed 1500 people in Ontario.Three-quarters of North Americans commute to and from work daily, the most dangerous task that we engage in. We still kill each other, and maim countless innocent victims on our highways, just not as much as before. Perhaps quicker EMS response, and better medical advancements are to congratulate, NOT the Ontario governments’ lack of policies.

The recent law prohibiting drivers aged 19,20, and 21 from consuming ANY alcohol is an updated example of what we’re talking about here.  Minister Kathleen Wynne claims that over the last 10-years in a recent study, 235 young people were killed in motor vehicle crashes due to or associated with alcohol.  No doubting statistics.  But, hasn’t there been tens of thousands of Ontarians killed during the same studied period? So the MTO is passing a law outright, affecting this tiny sub-goup of drivers?  Ridiculous!  Shouldn’t government be spending my tax dollars, taking up valuable time in Queen’s Park Parliament passing laws that affect the majority of drivers?  Shouldn’t studies, and monies be spent on finding out what exactly the other 99.9% of drivers are dying of, and therefore passing laws to prevent this?

Should our government be administering the testing procedure in a more responsible manner? The drivetest centers which only observe a driver over the span of 12-15 minutes, before releasing him onto our roads, are heavily criticized for merely allowing the training of drivers to pass this measly test.  Such a short time to observe, and judge drivers!  Since when did someone die commuting a parallel park?  Why is this useless task even on our road test?Such a waste of valuable time!   Wouldn’t the drivetest benefit from observing drivers on more left turns, high-speed lane changes, highway merging, and responding to emergency manoeuvers?  Should drivetest examiners with a bad reputation for their lack of people skills be tolerated?  Check out the  website: now hiring examiners at $13.57 per hour wage!  And they are the “experts” on safe-driving?  Any clerk job, or senior fast-food outlet worker routinely earn more money.  This, unfortunately is the caliber of the now Steel Worker’s Union Local drivetest road examiner.  Pity.

Our whole testing system needs a MAJOR overhaul!  Just because someone is lucky enough to pass a simple written test (20 obvious signs and 20 random driving laws, now available in 18 languages), they can automatically drive on Ontario’s roads with a licensed driver!

If someone passes their M1 (motorcycle written test), they now can magically drive alone on a motorcycle up to 80km/hr, or an automobile with a licensed driver!  ALL M1/G1 drivers, as well as G2 and G-licensed drivers can magically then drive ANY   Manual-transmission equipped automobile !  Does this make any sense at all?!

Limo, ambulance, bus and truck drivers must pass a physical medical exam to continue to operate heavy machinery, some with the public as passengers.  Yet, the drivers do NOT have to retrain regularly, or at all, for life: Licenses A,B,C,D,E,F!  The same for novices: G and M.  Once you pass the test at age 18, say goodbye to retraining or testing for the next 62 years!  Only seniors must pass a written and eye-test every 2 years after age 80, but NOT a road test unless they fail either eye or written tests (or have an “at-fault” collision after age 65).  This system is simply shocking!  How many times do you see trucks routinely merging on the highway at half the posted limit (a VERY dangerous behavior normal drivers would automatically fail a drivetest).  Or, have you ever viewed how some truckers like to tailgate each oter (1 meter distance between), at highway speeds?  Truly, the lack of police enforcement is  astounding.  Perhaps the Ontario Trucking industry’s Association’s claim that trucks transport $13 billion worth of goods in our economy has something to do with the fear of enforcing rather obvious traffic laws.

In Europe, testing is stricter.  Applicants must take a test on a manual transmission car to drive it!  Graduated licensing is much tougher.  The test for driving in Britain includes city, highway, and country locales and is an hour in duration.  Hardly anyone passes it the first time.  Automatic drivers are prohibited from driving manual vehicles.  In eastern Europe, a mechanical-knowledge test and practical application test is incorporated into the licensing test.  In Italy and Israel, age restrictions of 18 must be attained before anyone can obtain a full license.  In Germany, England, and Italy (where I’ve extensively driven), hardly any speed limits are enforced.  Yet the crash rates of these drivers are much lower per capita.  What are we doing wrong?

Driver Education in Ontario is NOT mandatory.  Should it be?  Again, good driver ed is hard to come by.  But we’re improving as an industry.  Besides being annually inspected, we must meet stringent standards regarding minimum 20-hours classroom studies (plus workbook homework), and a minimum of 10-hours of in-car instruction.  But, ALL driving schools are NOT MTO-Approved.  Some driving schools are on the “watch list”, but the MTO does little to discourage them.  Similarly, good schools are left to their own when it comes to updating traffic laws, or communicating ANY new developments in driving law, or education to the general public.  More than 100,000 students are licensed by the MTO per year, adding to the complex nature of driving on our already clogged roads.  Yet the Ministry does a poor job of communicating with her approved-status schools.  Leadership is non-existent. Does the MTO even care is you get a good driver education?  If they did, there would be a mandatory minimum price of $1000 for quality driver education, similar to Japan and Scandinavia.

Good driving schools are being constantly squeezed by this lack of direction, no communication, and the unending cycle of unapproved schools being allowed to exist.  Schools that are cheap, cheat the system, cut valuable in-class time, shave hours in-car, and merely teach to pass a 12-minute test are putting your lives, your family’s lives, and your child’s lives in jeopardy!  Do you even care?  Or, are you merely interested in the lowest cost to teach your loved-one how to drive?  Do you take an active role in the selection of a driving school?  All good schools will allow applicants to sit in on an in-car or in-class lesson for free.

You must remember, we are teaching the most valuable skill to children whom must compete with 1-million cars per day speeding across the GTA.  You choose to spend thousands of dollars on soccer, swimming, dance, and music classes (plus costs for travel and tournaments) for the children, but you will NEVER spend this amount on the vision-training, life-saving skills needed to drive an automobile! Shame!  The average cost of a Canadian car is $35,000.00.  Insurance to drive per year is on average $3000 here in the GTA.  Gas costs on average $50 or double to fill up weekly.  Yet, driving schools try to maintain high standards, and hire quality personnel, highly trained to teach your family member the skills to survive.  All for $20/hour?  Ridiculous!

As long as we treat the complex skills of DRIVING (the psycho-social, behavioral science), as casual, non-mandatory, not life-threatening, the average death-rate will continue to grow.  Don’t expect leadership from THIS, or any future government!  Educate yourself! The tools are out there.  Buy the best driver training you can possibly afford.  Retrain yourself regularly! Don’t rest on your laurels, nor anyone else’s, or you’ll be Resting in Pieces!