• Young Drivers of Canada

Carte Blanche - We Need a Driver Training Revolution

More than just teach to the test

Jim Kenzie By: Jim Kenzie January 5, 2021
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One of the things I’m proudest of in my career is that I literally “wrote the book” on safe driving. Well, co-wrote it, with Doug Mepham.

It was part of what we thought was a cleverly-named program called the “Road Scholarship”, sponsored by Labatt Brewery. The content of that book formed the syllabus of a program that was taught to thousands of university students across the country for several years, initially by Gary Magwood, and later by Ross Bentley.

I personally know of one person who took the course and credits it for giving him the skills needed to avoid a dangerous driving scenario. He remains convinced that what he learned helped him avoid what would have resulted in a serious, possibly fatal, crash.

I know he’s not alone.

Why this level of driver training isn’t mandatory in every jurisdiction in this country remains a mystery. That would be the first step towards reducing the carnage on our roads. The second step? Let’s begin with the fact that currently, you pass a driver’s test when your sixteen, and you’re good until you’re 80.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, with little hope anything will come of it: mandatory re-testing every ten years, at specially-built facilities throughout the country, would not only reduce the carnage on our roads, it would reduce the death rate and the massive heath care costs for those who survive the crash. It would also create thousands of jobs, in site construction and management, trainers, and evaluators. And, it would all pay for itself.

Why wouldn’t every politician in the land jump on board a project like this?

In these current times when we are ever more aware of our mortality, it’s worth remembering that car crashes rank near the very top on the “person-years” lost criterion, given that these victims tend to be younger than those who succumb to other issues. Yes, such as COVID-19.

The other fact is that our driving tests in this country are woefully inadequate, and don’t even cover such things as driving on slippery roads, or what to do in the event of a skid. Slippery roads? Skids? In Canada? Who would ever encounter such a thing?

There are some driving schools that do teach these skills. I sent all our four of my kids to one of them, Young Drivers of Canada, because I personally knew Peter Christianson, who took the company over in 1975 from Heinz Naumann who founded it in 1970.

Young Drivers doesn’t just “teach to the test”, i.e., give you what you need to get over that disgracefully low hurdle. The fact that most people fail even that test tells you all you need to know about how bad most driver training is in this country. If they had to pass the driving tests in either England or Germany, they’d be Uber or Lyft clients for life.

Come on, politicians. You were elected to help people live better lives.

Get on it.

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