Driving with Privilege
Here’s a controversial thought:
Newcomers to Canada should be able to skip directly to a G2 drivers license.
Let me explain.
First, a primer on how things normally work.
You first take a written exam, get a G1.
The written exam is relatively easy, and the G1 license it grants gives the licenseholder a permission to get behind the wheel for the first time in their life.
There are caveats, though, with the most important ones being:
- The license holder should have someone with over 4 years of driving experience with a G license next to them.
- They are not allowed to go on the highway.
After a year, you take a driving test for a G2.
The G2 exam is the easier of the two driving tests one has to take. It doesn’t take the test taker on the highway, and is less strict on the rules required to pass it.
If you’ve had access to a car and you knew someone with a 4-star G license, you can practice easily for the test.
Once you get a G2, you can go on the highway. Some restrictions apply when you compare it to a full-on G, but they are negligible for the purposes of the next test.
Another year later, you take another driving test for G.
G is the highest level you get. While it’s not that different in permissions to a G2, it is more relaxed in some rules. It’s also a lot cheaper to rent or buy a car with a G license.
The test includes a highway portion. It’s strict. You not only have to know how to drive perfectly, but also have to participate in a security theatre that involves exaggerated neck aerobics to show which mirror you’re looking at. It’s tiring, but totally doable for the duration of the test.1
The process for newcomers is a bit more relaxed.
Newcomers with a license for 2 years in their previous country of residence have an expedited way to a G drivers license.
- They take the written exam for G1, as usual.
- Immediately after it, they can take the driving test for G.
No need to wait for 2 years, no need to get G2.
Pretty neat, right?
But it’s hard to practice for a G without a G2.
G1 licensees cannot rent a car.
Even if they could drive on their own, they cannot get a car to do so. All rental places require a minimum of a G2-level license.
Newcomers don’t really know anyone.
It’s pretty rare for a newcomer to have a friend or relative that can not only lend a car to them, but also have a 4-star G license that would allow them to actually drive one.
Even if they knew someone, they couldn’t get on the highway.
G1 license holders can only go on the highway with a licensed instructor. And G test takers are required to have been on the highway at least 10 times.
So, the only way to get a G license after G1 is to go through a driving school or private licensed instructors.
And it’s not like Canada doesn’t trust newcomers at all. They are fully qualified to drive with their old drivers license for the first 2 months after they land.2
So this seems more like an oversight than an outright hostility.
I received my G license on my first try, after attending a driving course and multiple lessons with an instructor—mostly because I’m a goody two-shoes. The law says I need 10 rounds in the highway, so I’ll get my 10 rounds on the highway.
However, many friends and acquaintances around me allowed me to compare and contrast the road to a G license, and I can say that it’s not a fair process. Having a family in Canada becomes a privilege, which shouldn’t play a role in such a mundane and common process.
It also subjects newcomers to predatory practices from aforementioned driving courses and instructors. Because there’s no proper due process there, you’re mostly bound to their whim, nickel-and-diming insidiousness, and constant nagging for driving their car.
So, Canada, just give ‘em a G2.
You trust newcomers with prior licenses to drive for 2 months, then completely ignore said license.
You trust them to qualify for the fully-permissive license right away, but don’t trust them to actually be driving.
You don’t offer any intermediary solutions that would prevent predatory practices that allow them to safely get what you offer.
So, let them take the written exam and just give them a G2 afterwards.
It would especially help during these COVID-laden times, when people struggle to find free slots for the driving test and are afraid to sit for an hour next to people who have spent hours sitting next to other people.
Just give them a G2.
They’ll learn the specifics on the road, like a teenager gets to with a G1.
- My instructor, after our first drive, told me that I was an excellent driver who would’ve completely failed at the test. I had to arrange the mirrors so I had to physically move around to see them, instead of sitting at a comfortable position with all mirrors arranged to give me near-360° view, as I usually do. ↑
- Which is a loophole they can use to rent a car, and take the exam, but 2 months go by fast when you’re trying to get your new life together, and it’s not really enough to learn all the tips and tricks of a G driving test. ↑