GettIng a Driver’s Licence

by Samantha Brazeau-Wilson

Clear the way! Your teen is finally 16—and anxious to get behind the wheel of a vehicle and cruise. But first, the designated route to getting a driver ’s licence is an important one to follow. Without practice and proven know-how, your teen won’t be driving any time soon.

For most people, the required three-step process takes about 20 months to finish. Ontario’s Graduated Licensing System (GLS) starts with beginners proving they understand traffic signs and rules of the road by passing a G1 written test. A fee of $125 covers the written test, the next-level road test (G2) and a five-year license. If your teen doesn’t pass that initial test on the first try, it costs $10 each subsequent time.

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO)’s Official Driver Handbook helps novice drivers prepare for the G1 test. It covers the rules of the road, as well as driving safety tips. The booklet, $14.95, can be purchased online at Service Ontario (www.ontario.ca) at any DriveTest centre (www.drivetest.ca) and at retail locations.

The second step in the GLS consists of two options. You can choose to teach your teen how to drive on your own, or you can enroll him or her in a driver’s education course. Not only does this course decrease the waiting period for the G2 road test from 12 months to eight, but it also lowers the cost to add your teen to your insurance plan.

Driver’s education courses can be pricy, however, costing anywhere from $200 to $800. Though the course is not necessary, it is recommended to ensure young drivers get the education they need to be safe while on the road. The average course consists of 20 hours of in-class learning, 40 hours of in-car instruction and seven hours of at-home assignments.

The MTO warns that not all driving schools offer ministry approved classes. Look for schools that offer MTO-approved beginner driver education courses to ensure your money is well spent.

“I took driver’s ed because my parents were pushing me and my brother to do it,” says Andrew DiRienzo, a G2 driver. “They said it would be a benefit to us.” Andrew suggests more people should take the course since it cuts down the wait time to become an independent driver. “I think it was worth it because you get hints and tips about what to expect on your G2 and G tests, which I found helpful when going for my G2.”

Whether teens take a driver’s education course or not, it is still necessary for them to use the eight to 12 months to learn proper driving skills and to develop competency following the rules of the road. This stage helps prepare them for the G2 road test, which is an in-car assessment that will test their knowledge of the rules, as well as their ability to properly and safely handle a vehicle. After obtaining a G2 license, young drivers have a bit more freedom to drive independently on all Ontario roads. However, it’s a full 12 months before they’re permitted to take the final road test that will earn them their class G license and designate them as fully licensed drivers. This road test is $75.

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