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Parallel parking needs to be back in G-class driving test, say experts

Skills like parallel parking, driving in residential areas and three-point turns were axed from Ontario’s G-class driving test in 2022 to curb driving test backlogs caused by the pandemic. But those who teach driving and keep watch over road safety say it’s time to bring them back.

Ottawa Driving School owner Majed Al-Wattar says instead of just testing prospective drivers on whether they can get from “point A to point B”, examiners need to evaluate a range of skills to help answer whether the would-be drivers “really deserve to [have a license] or not?” 

Higher collision rates among novice drivers since requirements removed 

A recent report by Ontario’s acting auditor general found the changes to Ontario’s G-class driving test were made without proper safety considerations. 

Former Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney justified the decision at the time saying drivers would still be tested on those manoeuvres in the G2 exam.

But the AG report notes that about 54,000 drivers new to Canada, who aren’t required to take the G2 test if they have a licence from their home country, are no longer being tested for those techniques in Ontario.

The audit also found that less-experienced drivers from other countries and those from urban areas who chose to take their road exams in rural or suburban test centres had higher collision rates after licensing than others. 

Al-Wattar is not surprised by the findings. In an interview with CBC’s Ontario Today, he explained he often sees drivers new to Canada making the same mistakes, and that many students prefer taking a test in rural areas over cities.

Ontario Today23:59Just how important is parallel parking?

Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation cut the requirement to parallel park from the final G test in January 2022, a move Ontario’s auditor general says was made a full review. We ask a driving instructor how that decision is playing out behind the wheel.

“We have a lot of requests that students want to do the test in rural areas where there are no lane changes, and no actual highways,” he said. Rural areas also have fewer pedestrians and cyclists, he said, making for an unrealistic driving experience.

Public looking to ministry to ‘do the right thing’

Al-Wattar still teaches students parallel parking and three-point turns, even if some push back.

“We try to push toward that because we know [developing these skills] is important,” he said. 

Angelo DiCicco, the general manager of traffic safety organization Ontario Safety League, also wants the manoeuvres reintroduced to the test.

“If you haven’t performed [parallel parking] early on in your career, many people are not going to practice and attain that skill a decade or two from now,” he told CBC Radio’s All in a Day.

“The insurance companies and the public at large is looking to the ministry to do the right thing, not only for the efficiency of the system, but for the safety of all of us,” he added. 

All in a Day7:57Auditor general finds Ontario G driving test changes done without proper safety consideration

Ontario’s acting auditor general gives the Ministry of Transportation a failing grade on safety with the new G driving tests. We hear what the Ministry of Transportation can do to address the concerns raised in the report.

Mark Andrews, a retired Ontario Provincial Police traffic inspector, says bringing those requirements back would help prevent needless collisions. 

“New drivers don’t understand how their vehicle will react in a situation when you take away simple skills like parallel parking,” he said. 

“Those skills that are being dumped from the test need to be on there.”

In a statement to CBC, the Ministry of Transportation said they are “consistently reviewing best practices and continue to monitor the impacts of the shortened test to ensure applicants’ driving abilities are adequately tested.”

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