Student drivers must get plenty of
to drive now a costly venture' (April 19, 2003)
The Hamilton Spectator, Letters
to the Editor
Saturday, April 26, 2003
As a driving school owner/operator, I know learning to drive
is a costly venture. But driving is a privilege, not a right.
And it is not a part-time or leisure activity. It's a full-time
job, requiring effort to learn the necessary skills.
Seldom do driver trainers defend the Ministry of Transportation.
But the MTO loses money on each G1 license issued. The $100.00
fee must cover the five-year span of the license, G1 and G2
license photos, plus temporary green permits, and pay for
the first driving test to exit from G1 to G2.
To obtain a G1 license, a candidate must
pass a written test. The writer laments that failure means
spending another $10.00 on a repeat. This is why the Official
Driver's Handbook is needed. Many candidates decide against
taking driver education and wing it on this written exam.
When it's time to move up, failing the
G1 exit test means $40.00 for each retest until the G2 level
is reached. That fee partially pays MTO for providing all
that goes with licensing. Because the fee does not cover all
costs, the government is privatizing road testing, arguing
that the private sector can offer a more cost-effective operation.
Time will tell.
At the end of five years, drivers possessing
a G2 license must pass another exit test to obtain a full
G license. Currently, this costs $ 75.00. It is a very difficult
exam, taking up to 30 minutes, and involves driving on an
expressway. It is not child's play. One must be properly prepared.
If a G2 holder is not ready to get a G, he/she may redo another
G1 exit test to get a new G2 license for another five years.
Not going for either a G2 or G license means they must start
all over again as a G1 driver.
At $12.95, the Official Driver's Handbook
is a bargain. Driving school operators must have at least
10 copies ($ 129.50 plus GST) to complement the outdated Roadworthy
book that we're supposed to use for classes. The Roadworthy
book, of which we must have enough copies to meet our enrollment,
also costs a lot. It needs to be rewritten. But at what cost?
There are two groups in Ontario that approve
driving schools - MTO and Driving Schools Association of Ontario
(DSAO). Both have informational Web sites. Being an accredited
MTO course provider costs money. School premises, office computers
and furnishings, utilities, vehicles plus maintenance and
insurance, educational equipment and supplies, etc. Insurance
on training vehicles averages $4,500.00 a year, prompting
many schools to carry a $2,000.00 deductible - payable when
the training vehicle is in a collision caused by the student.
Insurers do not like driving schools - they're deemed a dangerous
The letter writer's quoted sum of $380.00
for driving school is low for
Hamilton. Most charge $400.00 to $600.00-plus for a certificate
course. And, at $75.00 for a rented vehicle for a road test,
she's getting another bargain.
The writer feels that driving schools
and MTO are squeezing her for extra money by failing candidates.
Believe me, many candidates are very nervous and don't need
any help to fail. MTO has no vested interest in failing a
student - there are no commissions given to examiners for
the number of students they pass or fail. And legitimate driving
schools will not allow use of their vehicles for a road test
if they feel a candidate is not ready.
Everyone in the driver training industry
recommends that parents / partners take the student driver
out for at least 10 hours of practice for each hour of training.
Too many students are shortchanged in this regard: A practice
vehicle might not be available, a parent / partner might be
unavailable - or just too scared to get in the car with the
But, without practice and experience,
candidates cannot expect to pass a road test. In fact, there
are some licensed parents / partners who would also fail the
same road test that their family member faces - and probably
by a greater margin. Many licensed drivers are not as good
as they think they are.
Graduated licensing was introduced to
allow students to mature and gain some experience. The question
of maturity is a touchy issue. Most young people don't understand
the laws of physics. And they do not comprehend that driving
errors can lead to death or disability. Thus they do stupid
things. That's why insurance is so high for those aged 16
to 24 - especially those without any formal driver training.
Without proper preparation, there would be total anarchy
on our roads. Those in the driver-training and insurance industries,
together with the MTO, are striving to create a safe environment
on the roads. All of our efforts are wasted if drivers fail
to come to grips with the responsibility of owning and driving
Dez Miklòs jr., Hamilton