Nick McCaw’s road to his drivers licence took him from his small hometown of Picton, Ont., through Belleville, where he passed his G2 test.
Now driving in Toronto for work, the 22-year-old says that walking out of the Belleville DriveTest centre leaves students unprepared to drive in the city.
“Coming from the country, there’s a smaller population and less people on the road,” McCaw said. “You need more practice and honing on driving skills before moving on to heavily congested city streets.
“Driving in the city takes more practice and more time to be comfortable.”
You pass … and then you crash.
Though McCaw wasn’t from the city he now drives in, many students from Toronto seek out smaller towns in which to get their licences, said Angelo DiCicco, general manager for the GTA Young Drivers of Canada school.
“If what you’re looking for is a quick, easy road test and the fastest path to that, you get someone who prepares you for one road test,” he said. “You pass … and then you crash.”
Roughly 20 per cent of his school’s students seek to do a driving test in rural, low-population towns, said DiCicco, who’s taught driving lessons for 25 years.
“Quite a few ask to but generally we don’t accommodate them,” he said. “If you’re so anxious that you’re unable to perform, you should be questioning your ability to drive there the next day when you have a stamped piece of paper.
“You should get tested in the city where you’re going to be driving,” DiCicco said. “It’s a more accurate representation of what you’re going to be doing day after day, year after year.”
A Toronto Star investigation in 2010 reported many Toronto driving schools take students to smaller towns outside the city, such as Bancroft, to take their driver’s test. In these towns, where there is generally a lighter volume of traffic and less complicated driving conditions, teachers can coach students on the route they’ll be tested on.
“You might not do an appropriate left turn at an intersection because there may not be one,” DiCicco said. “All road tests are not created equal.”
Belleville Young Drivers instructor Everett Gow has taught students for 10 years. Some of of those students, he said, come from Toronto for lessons or to take the test.
“They feel intimidated by the traffic in the city,” he said.
Gow disagreed with the implication that drivers who earn their licences in smaller towns aren’t qualified to drive on Toronto’s busy streets.
“I keep telling [students] that there’s not much difference between the city of Belleville and the city of Toronto,” he said. “If they knew everything and put everything they learned into practice, they won’t get into trouble in the city.”