Archives for category: driver’s ed

G1: Achieved.
(I say it simply, but honestly, the process of getting it done was beyond horrid. I stood in line for nearly three hours to get my documents checked and waited another 45 minutes to get my vision tested. A combined total of ten minutes was spent waiting for my turn to write the test, and for them to mark my test. So, basically, of the four hours I spent at the DriveTest, only 20 minutes of it actually involved me doing something other than staring blankly at the walls. I’m just glad it’s done with.)

Able to drive: Uh… Well…

I annoyed my dad until he took me out to an empty parking lot to practice this evening. I wanted to start immediately, not only because I was giddy from having finally gotten a license, but because I don’t have much time left before school starts and essays start piling in again.

And let’s just say, after today, I have a real appreciation for anyone who can drive on downtown roads without bumping into anything. Actually, I have a real appreciation for anyone who can drive. Period.*

First, I could not believe how sensitive the gas pedal was. A small touch, and the car went lurching off as though drunk. And yet, if you don’t touch the pedal, the car can’t move. So, my driving was marked by random bursts and periods of slow drifting — probably a pretty laughable sight to the other person driving around the parking lot — practicing their perfect angled parking. >.> What a way to make a girl feel good.

Second, I always turned the wheel too much. A small movement is enough to make the car do a 90 degree turn, but I didn’t figure this out until my last lap around the lot (even though my dad had continually told me that throughout the whole lesson). So this, in addition to my over-steering, forgetting to brake before turning (I figured this out after maybe ten minutes, thankfully — otherwise, I might have actually crashed into something today!), and not letting the wheel recover meant that turning was a pretty scary business. Particularly scary was when I attempted a turn too late, and nearly turned into the curb! O.O Goodness. My dad took that opportunity to teach me how to reverse…which brings me to the third point:

Third, I cannot turn and reverse. (Yet.) My dad decided to finish off the lesson by getting me to reverse park a car. And while reversing straight is fine for me, reversing and turning right into a parking space is a total epic fail. The car went in at an embarassing angle. The front wheels weren’t straight. The only good thing about my parking was that I succeeded at not backing up into the hill behind us.

After that, I was done. And tired. I left the driver’s seat, a bit relieved that I somehow survived my first time controlling a metal box that can potentially kill, and climbed back into the comfort of the front passenger seat. It wasn’t until when my dad pressed on the gas pedal again and the car lightly jumped ahead to take us home that I realized how sensitized I had become to the car’s movement in one and a half hours — my heart leapt half a mile when my body told me, “The car. Is lurching. AGAIN! It’s your fault! Make this box stop!”

Oh my. I’m hoping things will go more smoothly the next time I go driving.

*Okay, technically, I know driving isn’t that hard, and that eventually I’ll be able to drive just as well as all these drivers I’m praising right now. But for someone who has only been behind the wheel for 1.5 hours, driving seems more difficult than writing a math exam…almost.


“Are you sure this is the right place?” my dad asked me as we parked outside our (relatively) local DriveTest Centre.

“It…has to be. The address is correct,” I answered. But, as I said that, I had to stare wide-eyed at the crappy little office that brandished an old plexiglass box sign saying “DriveTest” on it. What’s worse was that this office was stuck in a run-down plaza, right beside an empty store which said “FOR LEASE”. Em. Okay. The only reason I gave this dive any credit at all was the fact that they printed, in letters so tiny they were almost invisible, “Licensed by Ontario,” on their ugly sign box.

Upon walking in, I was greeted by passing glances from…probably a good 50 people, who were either standing, sitting on benches, or hunched on the floor — all of them waiting to complete a test today. I pondered whether I would be lucky enough to get my G1 within the one hour that their website suggested as I approached the guy manning the “WRITTEN TEST” desk. He sent me to the “Help Desk” to apply first.

Help Desk? Registration? Who does registration at help desks anyways? Weren’t such places reserved for people with questions? My mind spun at the DriveTest’s odd organization as I joined the lengthy line for help. I stared at the drab gray walls. I stared at the LCD screens broadcasting ads for driver education programs. I glanced at the bored faces of those waiting to complete their tests (that is, if they weren’t looking at me). Rinse and repeat for fifteen minutes. Needless to say, despite the fact that there were enough young people in the room to throw a huge party, it was not an exciting place to be.

It is not a good thing to feel dread when you’re waiting in line at a government office. In fact, it is never a good thing to feel dread. But that was what I was feeling as the line inched forward. People did not look happy after being served at the desk. I was hoping that it was just bad customer service, but deep inside, I knew it was something worse.

It was finally my time. I approached the girl at the desk with apprehension. Her blue polo shirt, coupled with the speckled gray wall behind her, reminded me of a shady car rental place.

“Hi, I’d like to do my G1 written test today.”

She smiled at me in a way that suggested she was not going to give me good news. “I’m sorry. I’m afraid we’re completely full today. You can come back another day though — we’re open 8:30 to 5 Mondays to Saturdays.”

“Ah. Okay then. Thank you,” I told her with a smile, hiding the annoyance that was already beginning to bloom. I had been so anxious to write this, to get it out of the way so that I could stop thinking about how many days your license would be suspended if you did X or how much you had to pay if you did Y. I was excited to have this milestone completed today, but in one fell swoop, this girl punished me with sudden disappointment…and another day of memorizing useless facts. My only crime? Coming two and a half hours before their closing time.

You have to wonder — why did they not post a sign at the door informing the public that they were already full, so that people wouldn’t have to wait in vain at the Help Desk? I felt particularly sorry for the father and daughter who were waiting in front of me — I saw them waiting for a bus home as my dad and I were driving away. Basically, they paid $10 ($2.50 per one way trip for an adult) to get to a DriveTest centre, only to accomplish nothing.

I’m planning to go to this dive of a government office again tomorrow — and as a safety precaution, I’m going to go six hours before their closing time, so that there is no way they can kick me out this time.

I find it hard to believe that reversing on a highway is not as dangerous as driving in the opposite direction of the lane you’re in.

…Well, okay, based on physics, and probability, driving in the opposite direction should be more dangerous. After all, you would be driving faster if you were merely reversing your car, and so the force of the collision would be much more powerful. But what if we compared driving in the opposite direction on a 40 km/h road and reversing on a 100 km/h highway? Well, I’m not doing the math for that one now, but I would think that the latter would create a more devastating situation than the former.

Interestingly, the demerit points for reversing on highways is 2, while the points for driving in the opposite direction is 3. Hm. Aren’t violations scaled against the points system based on how dangerous they are to the general public? I’d have to say I’d be pretty freaked out if I nearly ran into some idiot who decided to reverse in the middle of an expressway. Perhaps the points for such a ridiculous crime should be increased by one… It’s likely no one will feel the effects of the raise, anyways — I’ve never heard nor seen of anyone backing up on the 401 yet.

I was doing an online practice knowledge quiz for my driver’s test today, and this was one of their questions:

What should you do if you get stuck or stranded in the snow?

a) Immediately look for help
b) Run your engine as needed to provide warmth
c) Run your vehicle engine for approximately 5 minutes every hour to avoid effects of carbon monoxide
d) All answers are correct


Well, this wasn’t something I remembered reading about in the driver’s handbook, but common sense told me that (b) was correct. After all, leaving your car for help in the middle of a snowstorm will most likely put you into more danger, while running your car to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is just ridiculous. And if (a) and (c) are incorrect, then (d) must be, too.

So I selected (b). The webpage, with bold, red letters, told me “INCORRECT; Correct answer is (c).”

What?! How does that even make sense?

I did a quick Google search, and of course, the quiz was misinforming me. I’m going to be generous (because I do appreciate the fact that they took the time to make practice quizzes for us future drivers), and say that they misread the following information at Canada’s National Occupation Health & Safety Resource:

Run the car engine occasionally (about 10 minutes every hour) to provide heat (and to conserve fuel). Ensure that the tail exhaust pipe is free of snow and keep the window opened slightly (on the side shielded from the wind) to prevent the build up of carbon monoxide when the engine is running.

Lesson learnt today: Do not trust whatever unofficial practice quizzes say, EVER. Use their services with caution, and make sure you study directly from the official material first (and right before your test too, to prevent wrong information from clouding your memory).

Well, hopefully not.

I’m studying for my driver’s handbook, and under the “Driver Distractions” section, it states that careless driving (which happens to include eating, drinking, reading, grooming, and using cell phones) can potentially land you six demerit points, six months in jail, and up to $1000 in fines. Oh, and your license might be suspended for two years too.

Talk about heavy handed in punishments.

Not that I like careless drivers. In fact, I’m the type who gets quite annoyed when I see drivers yapping on their phones or changing lanes without signalling. But, you know, it would really, REALLY be sad if you were driving home from a long workout at the gym, decided to take a small sip from a tetra box, and got thrown in jail for six months AND fined $1000.

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