Perpetuating Mediocrity

New Driver SignsI once stopped a vehicle being driven at 96 km/h in a posted 50 km/h construction zone. Approaching the passenger side, I spoke with the woman in the front seat and the young lady driving. When I explained why I stopped them, the woman suggested that she was unable to get the driver to slow down, and maybe I could do something about it.

The driver produced a learner driver's license and no L sign was displayed on the vehicle.

To me, the solution was simple. The woman should have denied her daughter access to the vehicle unless she was willing to follow the traffic rules. The conversation told me that this was a known issue rather than a one time lapse on the part of the driver.

After they had departed and I sat doing the notes for the violation ticket I had issued, I wondered to myself if maybe it wasn't so simple. Perhaps this woman should not have been given the privilege of teaching her daughter to drive. If the teacher is ill equipped to teach, the new driver will not learn what is necessary to drive correctly and safely.

Do parents read the Tuning Up for Drivers guide that their teen receives in the package with their new learner's licence? The book contains 20 lessons to prepare for the class 7 road test presented in order for good skill development.

We all tend to think that we are better than average drivers, but I occasionally find myself in conversations with parents who tell me that their teen taught them about things that they were doing wrong when driving.

Yes, ICBC does test the new driver to see if they meet standards as they progress through the Graduated Licensing Program. These standards are much more stringent than they were when I took my driver's test years ago. The trouble is, attitude can easily be hidden for the duration of a test, but put back on as soon as the driver hits the highway alone.

Perhaps this young lady would be better off taking the complete GLP package at a driving school. She will receive instruction in both the mechanics and the ethics of being a good driver that she might not be getting at home.

Currently Nova Scotia, Quebec and Saskatchewan require a new driver to take formal training in order to get a full privilege driver's licence. Given the level of complexity facing a learner driver today presented by both the vehicle and the driving environment, perhaps formal training should be mandatory in all provinces.

Resource Links:


I see that this is an old post ...

... but so far as I'm aware the consequences of this type of behaviour by an 'L' Driver would have been, and still are, severe; speeding in and of itself would be enough for 3 demerits and consequent license suspension (because she was within the Graduated Licensing period) along with a re-commencement of the one-year waiting period before she would be eligible to apply for her Class 7 'N' Road Test.

96 km/h in a 50 km/h zone would surely be enough to earn an additional penalty for being more than 40 km/h over the posted limit.  And of course, failure to display the 'L' should result in further penalties/costs to the driver as a separate offence.

Not only should the parent have denied access to the vehicle, she (or whoever signed permission for the teenager to obtain that 'L' license) should seriously consider whether to try and have it revoked; of course, this could be academic so long as the license remains under suspension.

Driver education - any education - will only work with those who are willing to listen.  You can take a horse to water ... or maybe you just need to wait a year or two before determining that the youngster has reached a level of maturity where they might once again be permitted behind the wheel.



I have no idea the cost in man hours, or money, but I firmly believe every single driver in B.C. should have to re-test every 10 years, or 5 for class 1.

maybe randomly pick 10% every year, never the same one in 10?

like all the brouhaha about MELT, by all means raise the bar for training, but it should be the TESTING that weeds out the inept, and requires them to become a better driver before the are given a license.

I firmly believe, as do many others, the graduated licensing is necessary for classes below or above 5.

apologies for getting off track.

Re-testing? If you can qualify once, why not umpteen times?

James, I understand your point of view - but I don't think you understand the limitations of testing. 

Whether it be achieving the necessary minimum standards for High School Graduation, University Degree, Driver License, Veterinary Surgeon, Flag Person, Pilot, or whatever - that's all that can be measured.

As our site host succinctly pointed out:

The trouble is, attitude can easily be hidden for the duration of a test, but put back on as soon as the driver hits the highway alone.

And mandatory re-testing cannot change this, whether it's the arrogant teenager who figures they 'know better' than to behave in the way they needed to in order to qualify for their license in the first place (and then breaks all the rules the moment they're left to their own devices) or the Class 1 Owner/Operator who 'checks' his airbrake system by making a brake application and seeing how much the gauge drops - or who is in the habit of using the hand valve so as to use only the trailer brakes most of the time - repeated testing isn't going to make a blind bit of difference.

Over the course of my career, I've taken several tests. Class 5 Driver License, Class 3 Driver License, Class 4 Driver License, Class 5 Driving Instructor License, Class 1 Driver License ... and I've also undergone the necessary training to become an Examiner (a different role from an Instructor, though they're often confused). Which in my case means a Training Assessment Officer for Class 4 Applicants, also a TAO for Class 5 Driving Instructors, an ICBC Driver Examiner for Class 4 & Class 5, and a DriveABLE Examiner. So honestly, I think I understand this stuff - and better than most quite frankly.

Am I saying that there is no place for additional testing of a supposedly qualified person's abilities, even though they've previously earned their license? Not at all!

In the UK for instance, when a driver is convicted of a serious offence(s), it's now customary that they not only have a finite ban on driving, plus fines and court costs, but that the ban will only be lifted after they then take - and pass - an 'Advanced' Driving Test requiring a much higher standard than was necessary for them to hold a license in the first place.

Here in BC (and most relatively stringent jurisdictions) all drivers are required to undergo a Driver Medical examination on or about their 80th birthday - something you and I have been doing since we were half that age - but in the case of seniors the issue isn't fundamental ability to operate the vehicle, but to cognitively function as a driver. They'll either be required to repeat that process every couple of years (if they're medically fit), or if there's a concern then they'll need to take a Re-Examination to ensure their fitness behind the wheel.


Separately, I do agree with you on the 'Graduated Licensing' concept also being applied to professional licensees i.e. Class 1, 2, 3 & 4.

The current situation, not only in BC but across Canada and the US, is that (particularly for Class 1 Drivers) demand for drivers considerably exceeds supply. Many employers are ready to scrape the bottom of the barrel and take on whomever in order to get their goods moved to market. In the last couple of years I've travelled in BC, Alberta, Nevada, Hawaii, and Arizona. All over the place, the rigs have big signs advertising for drivers.

Politics notwithstanding, this is not the time for licensing jurisdictions to ease up on their standards for economic reasons. Hell, no. This is the time for licensing jurisdictions to set higher standards to ensure that Truck Drivers and Bus Drivers are actually qualified professionals.

If BC and other Licensing Authorities are to achieve this, then re-testing Class 5 drivers every ten years to see if they still remember how to use their turn signals or stop at stop signs has to be way down on their priority list.

I Was Serious

When I was going through my flight training, and after I soloed, I was required to put in 25 hours, going around the patch. That is 25 hours of takeoffs and landings. You can become tired of it after a while. But you learn to do it right.

When my children learned to drive ( stick‎ shift) before graduated driving came in, they thought I was hard in them, I required that they put in 25 hours, in the driveway, forward and reverse. We had a sloped driveway, and I told them if they could not start and stop the vehicle on a hill, the could not go on the road.

I made it clear when they finally left the yard and did not follow the rules, they simply would loose the privilege of driving our car for ever. I did the same with our grandsons.

Before they got into the graduated system. They were well aware I was serious. This was a long time ago. They still drive standard cars. They sti‎ll remember, and now agree it was worth it.

Parents now give into their children, I now believe parents should not be allowed to instruct their children, unless they make solid rules and stick to them.

Great Idea

At this point an “L” driver or an “N” driver are under more scrutiny than full class 5 drivers.

The point at which driver’s licenses are suspended is lower for them.  I think it’s one ticket and bye bye license.

Perhaps an addition to the Motor Vehicle stating if an “L” driver receives a violation while under the supervision of a non-professional (I’m pretty sure tickets issued to “L” drivers receiving professional training is few and far between), they are then restricted to operating a vehicle under the supervision of a certified driving instructor.

When an “N” driver is suspended for a violation they start the graduated licensing program over (they restart the full term with their “N”).  Perhaps if an “N” driver receives a second violation, once they’ve serving the suspension, they restart the entire program as an “L” and restricted to being supervised by a certified driving instructor.

Talk about incentive to drive within the law.

The second pilot in the world leaning to fly was likely instructed by the first (I assume), but as aviation progressed the teaching and licensing of pilots became far more stringent.

Automobiles have been around for quit a while now, perhaps it’s time for similar rules.

Why do you want even more rules?

Perhaps an addition to the Motor Vehicle stating if an “L” driver receives a violation while under the supervision of a non-professional (I’m pretty sure tickets issued to “L” drivers receiving professional training is few and far between), they are then restricted to operating a vehicle under the supervision of a certified driving instructor.

How absurd. What don't you get? As you mentioned yourself, rules for the Class 7 driver are stringent, and even a single ticket on that 'L' or 'N' license is enough to bring in license suspension or prohibition. Problem solved.

And while the cops might give some allowances to how new drivers of Driving School vehicles behave behind the wheel (cause everybody has to learn somewhere, sometime), they sure as hell wouldn't include things like doing 96 km/h in a 50 km/h zone, or other egregious behaviour.

And sure, a driver with an instructor in a DTS vehicle will have to behave within certain criteria, including what the instructor finds reasonable; but the instructor can also control the situation (including using their own brake pedal, if necessary, or taking control of the steering). And that driver could 'learn' enough to pass the driving test (which is why most people take lessons, not to become better drivers), but the problem isn't solved. The attitude isn't solved. The driver isn't solved.

When are people going to comprehend that a Class 7 License is a Driver License, only with a bunch of restrictions and massive penalties already potentially applying?

The fact is, graduated licensing seems to be working, overall. But if you think that it's going to suddenly prevent teenagers from doing stupid things behind the wheel, forever and all time, then give your head a shake.


Does it Help?

Have the requirements in Nova Scotia, Quebec and Saskatchewan to have formal training improved driving behaviour? In the absence of significant evidence, formal driving school lessons should not be mandated for learners in other provinces. A family member with an excellent driving record, knowledge of defensive driving and the rules of the road, and an ability to communicate well should not automatically be required to send the learner to driving school lessons.

That being said, it would make sense to have a process via the police and/or icbc whereby a learner is required to take only formal training if it becomes evident that they the instruction they are receiving from a family member is inadequate or ineffective, as happened in the incident described. Also perhaps the family member should get a new endorsement on their full DL, something like “not permitted to supervise learners”, removal of such endorsement being conditional on formal instruction and/or retesting.

Exactly the Problem

Is the adult or licensed person qualified? I have spent my career in Aviation with much of it as an instructor. My philosophy has always been model exactly what is to be done all the time, every time, no exceptions!! Know the rules, and understand the why and what.

My question is why is annual or biannual driver training not required as it is in every single other transportation area. Could be as simple as an online refresher before insurance renewal or as complex as an actual short driving test every 5 or 10 years.

ICBC could learn a lot from the aviation sector!

I did not teach my children to drive, I let a professional do it. The Driving school made the parents attend for a couple of hours, it was a real wake up call.

Anonymous Armchair Experts - some questions you need to answer.

Firstly, I'm not convinced that Class 7 'L' drivers misbehaving behind the wheel are actually that big of an issue, when you look at the overall crash picture. I'll bet that our site host could count on one hand just how many tickets he's issued to drivers in this category. So from a public safety viewpoint, there are much bigger issues to be addressed, in order to keep our roadways safe.

A family member with an excellent driving record, knowledge of defensive driving and the rules of the road, and an ability to communicate well should not automatically be required to send the learner to driving school lessons.

I agree. In fact, there are some parents who do a better job than some of the instructors out there. And of course, some who only do an average job. But how much consideration have you given to the fact that driving lessons are a considerable expense for many families, so not a viable option? By the way, follow this idea to its' logical conclusion; if you're some filthy rich family in West Vancouver with an Aston Martin, a Porsche, an Audi, and a Range Rover in the driveway (but so little time available for mundane tasks) then it's easy enough to hire a Driving School to 'train' them, all you need is a credit card. Then if you want to show what a good parent you are, once the kid passes, you buy them a Ferrari to stick their 'N' on. This is not a joke, this is a reality for some folks around here; five or six thousand bucks spent at a Driving School isn't a difficulty. 

But meanwhile, just supposing (as you would have it) that only 'certain' parents would be qualified to teach their kids, whilst others (despite being 25+ years old, and holding valid driver licenses, so they can't be all that bad at driving) would not. Forgetting, just for a moment, that none of you Anonymous Armchair Experts have specified that the parental unit should actually have some ability to teach a skill (which is not at all the same as being able to perform that skill), having the right 'qualification' seems to be based on ... what?

Let's make a comparison, here. In order to hold a Driving Instructor License (like the one I've held for more than 32 years), you must be able, through weeks of training and testing, to demonstrate that you have the skills necessary. The skills to drive competently. The skills to teach competently - which is way more challenging for an Instructor in traffic than for some Teacher standing in a high school classroom. You'll learn a lot about that process if you take the time to read, and comprehend, Division 27 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations (because I'll bet you haven't done that, yet). So, here you go:

Division 27 — Driver Training

27.01 Definitions

27.02 Application

27.03 Penalties

27.04 Licensing

27.05 Driver training school and instructor training facility security

27.06 Standards and obligations of driver training schools

27.07 Standards, qualifications and procedures for driver training instructor's licence applications

27.08 Obligations of driver training instructor

27.09 Driver training vehicles

27.10 Other requirements

27.11 Driver training course curriculum

So, anonymous people, explain to us all what new part of the MVA Regs you have actually thought through and figured out, to make sure that only the 'right' people are allowed to teach new drivers? How will you specify, under law, that only the 'qualified' parents can teach their kids? I'll bet you haven't thought this through at all, and don't have a clue how this is supposed to be accomplished.

I have spent my career in Aviation with much of it as an instructor. My philosophy has always been model exactly what is to be done all the time, every time, no exceptions!! Know the rules, and understand the why and what.

Excellent! If you're gonna talk the talk, then by heck you better be able to walk the walk. Hopefully, you're also able to communicate your own knowledge, and explain what you're doing, and why. Otherwise, you're only a pilot, not an instructor (not that I doubt your teaching skills, after all you probably had to earn that Flying Instructor License and maintain it separately from your Flying License).

My question is why is annual or biannual driver training not required as it is in every single other transportation area.

Seems so logical, that phrase, doesn't it? But how many families have a plane in the driveway, and consider it an expensive, but necessary, part of their lives? And by what standard to you demand that every one of them, who already has earned, and holds a license to drive the car that's actually in that driveway, undergo frequent re-testing? Also, please note my previous posts on these subjects, in this thread.

And separately (though I must confess, I don't have much experience of flying planes, but it's definitely easier to take off than land lol) I have some slight knowledge of pilot testing, including having at one time known a guy who flew 747's for CP.  Back then (early 80's) Transportation Canada required these pilots to undergo re-testing, in a simulator, every six months. That's exciting stuff, trying to leave the runway on maximum load, when an outboard engine suddenly quits and it's too late to hit the brakes. And making a tight 180 turn at 600 mph without changing altitude by more than 50' - or airspeed by the same sort of margin - is physically and mentally tough. So no wonder the pilots practice these skills beforehand! Heck, they took that stuff so seriously that if a pilot was getting on in years, and discovered they weren't capable any more, they would typically choose to surrender their Flying License instead of the possibility it could be revoked, based on these extreme abilities.

But this has nothing to do with the way an average driver behaves, driving a car.

And meanwhile, let's give this a thought:

I did not teach my children to drive, I let a professional do it.

Really? Why is it that, over and over, we hear about parents who always think it's an either/or situation? Either 'I'm going to teach my kid how to drive' or 'I'm going to let the Driving School do this'. Would you make a choice between letting your child attend the public school system, vs home schooling? Or, would you send that child to the professionals for their education, while also expecting them to do hours of homework?

Yeah, homework. As in, practicing lots and lots between professional lessons. A local DTS that I used to manage offers a $1,200 GLP training package. 20 hours in the classroom, 12 hours behind the wheel. And right there on their site is this recommendation:

48 hours additional practice with a Co-Pilot in addition to the 12 instructional hours is strongly recommended to be successful in this course.

That's right. After almost 60 years' experience in the driver training business, that school expects a ratio of four times as much 'practice' behind the wheel as receiving professional instruction behind the wheel. In order to 'be successful'. And why? Because generally, that's what it takes, for the average Learner Driver to absorb all of the information their brain is trying to assimilate, in order to build on their skills as needed, to become an accomplished driver.

ICBC could learn a lot from the aviation sector!

This is how it is, in my opinion, in terms of driver licensing. If there's one thing that the people at ICBC do study, and try to comprehend, it's how people learn and how they drive afterwards. As both a regulatory authority, and being the government's auto insurance company, it's entirely in their interests to promote safe learning and safe driving. It's why, on this planet, they're considered to be leading experts in the field. Oh sure, they make some dumb political decisions at times (those Regs I posted earlier were first written in 1994, and part of that re-write included eliminating the requirement that a Driving Instructor already hold a Professional License; political correctness gone crazy, in anticipation of a flood of potential driving schools opening up three years later, when Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule).

But overall, I'm sure they've considered the aviation sector, and methodologies used there.

And meanwhile, your kids could have developed a lot better skills as drivers if you had practiced with them, instead of leaving it all to the 'professionals'.

(Gets off soapbox, breathes deeply ... )

Young Students

I no longer teach professionally but I do maintain my instructors licence and teach family and friends kids how to drive just for fun, I enjoy it. I always make sure one of the parents that will be riding with the student when I am not there rides along in the back seat to observe what I do and how I go about it. I do this so they can learn without being aware I am also teaching them. Every time I do this, part way through the first lesson I look over my shoulder to check with the parent and ask them if they are learning anything, I always get a huge grin and big head nod, every time.  This is why I make them come along, so they can learn too and be aware that they may not be the best person to teach their own children.

Google Ads