Driving represents many things to Canadians: convenience, the freedom of the open road, the promise of road trips and discovery. But first you have to make it through graduated licensing. If you’re a longtime driver, it can be hard to remember the anxiety and excitement of being a new driver: here’s what we noobs want our fellow drivers to know.
1. Co-drivers: please give us some credit!
Regardless of age, newly minted G1 license holders are pretty pumped to be behind the wheel. Most of us have taken formal drivers’ education, and all of us have passed our paper test. So don’t assume we’re about to crash the family car. As Isabella Eaton, 17, notes: “It’s hard to focus on driving when you have someone anticipating that you are going to make a mistake or yelling at you about what they think you should be doing.”
2. We drive best without distraction
No music, please. And let’s keep conversation on task and driving-focused. It’s hard to do two things at once, especially when one happens to be controlling a heap of metal speeding down the road.
3. Time with a pro is essential
The perfect mix of G1 driver training is a mix of professional in-car lessons and less-formal in-car time with a fully licensed co-driver. In-car sessions that are led by a pro tend to be more structured than tooling about with your co-driver. Good instructors come prepared for each lesson with a training agenda and checklist.
4. We really need our practice time
“The hardest part for me about having my G1 is getting enough practice time,” says Eaton. According to one longtime driving instructor, it takes a minimum of 50, and ideally closer to 100 hours of in-car practice time to hone your skills for your G1 exit test. The ideal lesson duration? About 45 minutes: long enough to get immersed, not long enough to get bored. That’s a lot of car time, so please be generous, co-drivers!
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5. There’s a reason we’re lurking in our parked car
Neighbours: don’t be disturbed if you see us just sitting and fiddling in the car – possibly for an hour or more. We’re not stalking you. But we may be following our driving instructor’s orders to memorize where everything on the dash is, so we can find it without taking our eyes off the road.
6. We are sticklers for the rules
If you see a car sticking right at the speed limit, slowing early for the amber lights and fully taking time to cool its jets at the Stop sign, that’s probably a new driver. We’re not going to push the envelope and risk our newly discovered freedom with demerit points, or worse yet, the cancellation of our G1. Don’t bother honking: we won’t speed up.
7. We have to practice the same thing over and over again
Driving aimlessly is a poor use of valuable in-car time. Professional instructors recommend new driver/co-driver in-car time be spent focusing on one or two specific skills, such as left hand turns, or three-point turns. Do then over and over again. And again. (We agree: someone should create a National Co-Driver Appreciation Day.)
9. We’re as mortified by that last three-point turn as you were
Maybe more so. It’s one thing to learn it in a deserted parking lot, another to execute it on a road, as oncoming traffic looms.
9. The G1 exit test day is always looming on the horizon
Anywhere from eight months to one year away (the shorter wait time is for those who sign up for an accredited program through a recognized driving school), the G1 exit test is the new driver’s Holy Grail. If we pass, we earn our G2 license, and with it, entrance into the world of solo driving. Most G1 drivers think about that test every time we step into the car. How was that merging—G1 pass-worthy? What about that parallel parking job?
10. We like the company
Although much has been made of the Millennial generation’s declining interest in driving, earning your license remains a rite of passage for most Canadians (regardless of age). Many parents find it’s one of the last opportunities to teach your child a significant new skill. “I find it reassuring to have a co-driver [her mom or stepdad] with me in the car when I’m driving. It means that if I get into any trouble or if I'm unsure of what to do, I can rely on the other person to help me out,” says Eaton. “I’m still more comfortable having a co-driver than not.”
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