The 21st Week
Getting a Driver's license
Driving a car is not a right but a privilege
The above headline is the motto of the Ministry of Transportation. Statistics say that every second resident of Canada including infants has a car. The infrastructure of Canada is fully adapted to road transport: a lot of high-speed highways and underground garages and parking lots everywhere. A man or a woman without a car feels pretty helpless, especially working men and women. Of course, in Canada there is public transport but it is rarely used for business travel and the intervals between buses can be twenty minutes or more. Many job ads state that the applicant must have his/her own car. Finally, a job often can be found far away from home and a hundred miles one way in Canada is not considered too far to drive; many people work for years and drive such distances in their cars.
How long can you drive with a license acquired abroad?
To get a Canadian driver’s license, you have to visit your nearest test centre and find out what the requirements are. Addresses of examination centres in Ontario are available at www.drivetest.ca/en/loc/Dec.aspx. In Toronto North York, this facility is located at Downsview Park, 37 Carl Hall Road.
In the general case, there are three exams to obtain the license for novice drivers.
The first exam checks the traffic regulations. In Ontario, you can learn the rules on your own using the guide, "The Official Driver's Handbook", developed by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. Buy this book on the Internet, in Chapters and Indigo book stores or in the centres where exams are given for the driver’s license; this book costs about $15.
Sometimes at your request, you can take the exam in your language in writing or on the computer. If you gain enough points, you get a G1 driver's license which allows you to drive when accompanied in the car by a driver with four years of experience. With this certificate, you cannot drive at night and you cannot use the 400 series highways. After twelve months of probation, the driver can take the test on the road. This does not apply to an experienced driver.
Is it necessary to finish driving school?
For the exam on the road, you should be carefully prepared. You can be trained by a relative or a friend, but it is a good idea to enroll in driving school. Twenty five hours of lectures and ten hours of practice driving is considered as sufficient training.
In driving school, you will drive with an experienced instructor in a specially prepared car. The instructor knows the routes, where exams are held and the traps that examiners arrange for novice drivers. The instructor can help you reduce the waiting period for a road test, which happens to be in a queue. As well, a certificate of completion from a driving school will help you to shorten the trial period between the theoretical exam and road exam from twelve to eight months, as well as reduce the cost of insurance on your vehicle.
The site, www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/dandv/driver/gradu/approve.shtml, has a list of driving schools recognized by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario and if you are interested in schools which teach in your language, you can find them in your ethnic newspapers.
You take the road exam on the streets and you can take it as many times as you want until you pass but the break between the two road tests must be at least ten days. You can rent a car for the exam; examination centres do not provide cars.
After passing the driving exam on city streets, you get a G2 license. It allows you to drive independently, without support of the experienced instructor but with some restrictions.
And finally, after passing the exam on the highway, you will receive a full G license. If you provide convincing documents of previous driving experience before immigration, the procedure for obtaining a driver’s license may be reduced.
Your driving license should always be with you; it is usually used as an identification card.
For more information about the rules for obtaining a driver's license in Ontario, please visit the Ontario Ministry of Transportation site: www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/dandv/driver/index.shtml.
Strict observance of traffic rules and an attentive friendly attitude to other drivers and pedestrians are distinctive features of Canadian drivers. This attitude will give you accident-free driving for a long time.