Safer roads begin with proper driver training
As a parent to a soon to be 14 year-old, the thought of her behind a wheel operating a motor vehicle has never yet entered my mind – until now. And let me tell you, the thought of her driving scares the living daylights out of me. Having said that, I fully anticipate our daughter to approach us on her 16th birthday to get her drivers licence, and thanks to CAA, we’ll be better prepared to deal with the subject matter when it comes up in discussion.
As a long time CAA member, I never knew CAA offered driver education training, but it perfectly makes sense that they do. In fact, CAA has over 50 years of experience in driver education, with 37 CAA Approved Driving School Network (ADSN) locations teaching the Ministry of Transportation Ontario (MTO) approved “How to Drive” beginner driver education course across various Ontario locations.
I got a glimpse into what the CAA driver training has to offer having recently attended the CAA Road Test Revival at Woodbine Racetrack. Our morning started with a brief driver education quiz that all students who graduate from the CAA “How to Drive” course should complete without difficulty. Let me tell you, after all these years since I passed my driver’s test, it wasn’t easy. With the average score hovering around 30-40%, I say my fellow comrades felt my pain. Next up, the dreaded road test.
CAA driving instructors put us through our paces as we showed them our driving skills in parallel parking, reverse lot parking and three-point turns. Personally, I reverse lot park all the time (by choice), I avoid parallel parking at all costs and I honestly can’t recall the last time I did a three-point turn. Indeed, this was going to be fun.
Reverse Lot Parking
Maybe it was our first station of the day or that I was nervous with onlookers, but being that I reverse park all the time, I should have rocked this maneuver. But when the instructor told me that it was clear I’ve never driven a minivan before (I drive one daily) I guess I didn’t pass. I am a big advocate for reverse lot parking after I found myself in a scary situation in an underground parking garage. I reversed parked in an area that didn’t have many cars around me (big mistake) and soon after I parked, a car with a lone male parked across from me. I didn’t think much of it until another car pulled in beside me, also with a lone male. Both appeared to be moving slowly and that was my cue to leave quickly. Because I reverse parked, I was able to see them and was able to make a quick getaway.
Benefits of reverse lot parking from CAA:
• Visibility around your vehicle is better while backing in
• Easier for drivers to see if the way is clear when exiting the parking spot
• Mechanical problems are easier to diagnose, and vehicle is easier to tow or boost
I use to rock at parallel parking before I drove a minivan. Nowadays, I rarely choose to parallel park, mostly because I hate having very little space in front and/or behind to exit the parking spot. All things considered, I didn’t do too badly, though it was considerate of the instructor to leave us plenty of room in front and behind to park the minivan.
Tips from CAA when parallel parking:
• Ensure the space is large enough to accommodate 1.5 times the length of your vehicle
• Signal early to help the driver behind understand your intention
• Do not start reversing until the way is clear or traffic has stopped to let you begin parking
Our final station of the day was mastering the art of the three-point turn. It was intimidating to learn that no one received a perfect score yet at this station. We first went through a trial run with Boris, our instructor. He walked us through the trial run, giving us tips and instructions along the way. Then it was time for the test and this time Boris remained silent carefully watching our every move from the passenger seat. I’m proud to say that I got the only perfect score of the day!
Tips from CAA on three-point turns:
• Be aware of U-turn restrictions
• Be 360° aware throughout the entire manoeuvre, check all mirrors and blind spots
• Avoid using a driveway or private property
If you have a son or daughter in the midst of preparing to start their driver education training, it’s important to take the time to find a driving school with qualified instructors that teaches to the MTO-approved curriculum. After all, we spend enough time and money on dance schools or hockey programs but when it comes to driver training, parents tend to search for low cost alternatives. If you’re thinking about training the kids yourself, let my experience be a lesson to you. It’s not a good option, as you tend to forget the best practices and settle into sloppy ones over time, which you’ll end up passing to your kids. Driving is a skill that requires proper instruction and adequate time to learn. It’s about the safety of your kids and others on the road. It shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The MTO-approved CAA Beginner Driver Training Course includes a total of 40 hours of classroom and in-car training. All students receive a free “How to Drive” textbook and in-car lessons are arranged privately directly with the instructor. The benefits of the program include:
- Get your G2 sooner
- Potential insurance savings
- Free 12-month basic CAA membership
- Grand Prize: CAA “How to Drive” course tuition
- $200 Apple Store gift cards
- $25 CAA Rewards Partner gift cards
- Cineplex “Great “Escape” package
Disclosure: I’m a CAA Ambassador and I received compensation for participating in this program. As always, my opinions are my own.
About Wendy Morelli
Wendy loves her 2 kids and her iPhone, not necessarily always in that order. She is an app obsessed mom who loves everything tech and is (unfortunately) old enough to remember the brick Motorola cell phone and the Commodore computer. Her love for technology stems back to the 10+ years of working for technology based companies. Wendy's alter ego, "AppHipMom" has been featured in Canadian Family, iVillage, Women in Biz, EverythingMom, BlogHer and Savvy Mom.