January 2, 2008

Ontario government to improve beginner driver training

Toronto, Ontario – Ontario will improve standards for beginner driver education (BDE) to help teach novice drivers safe habits and keep the roads safe, said Transport Minister Jim Bradley.

“We are taking decisive steps to improve standards for beginner driving education programs, so parents can be confident that when they choose a driving school, their children will learn to drive safely and correctly,” Bradley said. “We plan to take additional actions in 2008.”

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) maintains a list of approved beginner driving schools on its Web site at www.mto.gov.on.ca. To be approved, a school must meet MTO standards or it will be removed from the list.

A new monitoring and audit program has been implemented, which includes undercover shoppers to ensure standards are being followed. In 2007, MTO audited all of its approved BDE schools and removed 22 from the list.

Other standards will include regulation of all BDE schools; a requirement that instructors must work for an MTO-licensed school to teach new G1 drivers; and licensing and MTO audits for high school BDE programs, which were not previously regulated by MTO, as of September 2008. In addition, new driving instructors can no longer be licensed if they have a single demerit point or Criminal Code conviction.

The province will release new BDE curriculum standards in 2008 and will also review the “time discount”, allowing a G1 driver to graduate to G2 after eight months, rather than a year, if the driver takes a recognized BDE course. The province says one option it is looking is at following British Columbia, allowing drivers to shift the time discount earned by successfully completing an approved BDE course to the stage where a G2 driver graduates to the full G license.

As of November 1, 2007, there were 472 MTO-approved BDE course providers in Ontario, and more than 200 high schools delivering an MTO-approved curriculum.

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