There are Differences among Driving Schools
How do I know which driving school to choose?
Driving schools vary widely in price as well as quality, so when considering which school to hire do your research and ask the right questions. Choose a school that you know has instructors with a proven reputation in the community and the student’s best interests at heart. Students wanting an insurance discount and the opportunity to try their G1 exit test in only 8 months instead of 12 months MUST be certified through a driving school offering an Approved Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) Beginner Driver Education Program (BDE).
Danger Signs which Indicate Serious Issues- Walk Away!
Beware of driving schools which:
- are not listed on the MTO’s list of approved schools, see: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/dandv/driver/gradu/apshtml revoked schools are listed on the MTO’s link at http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/dandv/driver/gradu/revoked.shtml
- display a roof top vehicle sign with a phone number or name that does not match the driving school’s company phone number or name. If you dial the number and it takes you anywhere but the approved driving school you may be dealing with an illegal company or instructor. Try Googling the phone number and see where it takes you. Some instructors set up illegal schools and advertise their services through web sites such as Kijji. G1 Novice drivers may only be taught by licensed instructors working under contract to a driving school offering an MTO Approved BDE program. All driving schools and instructors must comply with the HTA Regulation 473/07, a copy of which is available at http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/source/regs/english/2007/elaws_src_regs_r07473_e.htm
- demand extra fees for registering and/or certifying New Drivers.
- Consistently require students to pay for additional hours of in-vehicle lessons beyond the 10 hour minimum. A quality driving school should be able to consistently prepare a student for their G1 exit Road Test within 10 hours as long as the student gets practice at home between lessons with the professional instructor.
- do not collect hst 13% and instead prefer to work for cash ‘under the table’.
- charge extra fees to pick-up students at home / school or drop them off at home / school.
- offers to take New Drivers to distant Drivetest Centres for ‘easy’ road tests where they claim the examiners can be bribed for extra fees. To be safe, New Drivers need to take a Road Test in the jurisdiction of their residence since these are the roads and driving environments that they will be experiencing in their daily driving. A quality driving school will urge students to take their Road Tests on the same local roads that they were trained on.
- runs the classroom portion of their courses from private home residences. All MTO Approved BDE classroom courses must be located in commercially zoned areas. Try running the address of the driving school through Google Maps to see where the classroom is located.
- offer dramatically cheaper prices than their competition or special ‘deal of the day’ coupon discount deals with time limits and no refunds. Profit margins in the driving instruction industry would indicate that fees of under $500 per student do not provide a reasonable rate of return. Some schools pay their instructors very low wages and hire only those that quality schools refuse to hire in order to keep fees low. Remember that you get what you pay for. A quality school relies on customer word of mouth referrals to generate new business. Students and parents who have a quality experience tell their neighbours and friends.
- offer ‘discounts’ to new drivers who are willing to sign for lessons that they did not attend or receive. Any certification from such ‘discount’ schools would be fraudulent and could lead to problems with insurance company collision claims in the future.
- only prepares students to pass a G1 exit Road Test. Be sure to ask whether their program also includes teaching the manoeuvres for the G2 exit Road Test. For example, students should have the opportunity to drive on a limited access freeway with a speed limit of 100 km/hr. Freeway driving is not a requirement of the G1 exit Road Test so some schools do not include it in their Novice Driver BDE Program. All driving schools using the CPD-Jetala Curriculum must include freeways in their programs. The only exception to this would be in some remote Northern Ontario communities with no access to a freeway within a 1 hour driving distance of the school.
- says that a student for any reason does not have to complete all components of the approved program or indicates they will just sign off on any of the required lessons since you don’t need them. This is not a legitimate school that you want to be dealing with. Any certification from such schools would be fraudulent and could lead to problems with insurance collision claims in the future.
- uses an unprofessional manner on the telephone, insisting that you call them only on a telephone displaying your caller I.D. ( they may be fearful that the MTO is checking up on them), they may also ask for cash payments with no receipt and hst.
- does not take legitimate registration information from you and allows students to complete all the in-vehicle lessons prior to the in-class lessons or without any in-class lessons at all.
- requests only a photocopy of a driver’s licence and proceeds to tell you that is all that is required to obtain program certification with only a couple of in-vehicle lessons. The MTO Approved BDE COURSE requirements include 40 hours of instruction. These hours are broken down into 20 hours in-classroom / 10 hours in-vehicle / 10 hours of home-link (homework).
- sends you to a location with a different business name for the in-class lessons. New Drivers must receive their entire program from a single approved school. Schools are not allowed to combine together and ‘pool’ their students. Any certification from such ‘pooled’ schools would be fraudulent.
Ministry ‘Approved’ Program does NOT Mean the Program Comes from the Ontario Government
Remember that ‘Ministry Approved’ does not mean that the curriculum was provided to the driving school by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO). All curricula used by driving schools are sold to them by private developers or created by the schools themselves. The developers are required to submit their curricula to the MTO for approval before they may be sold to driving schools. There are over 2 dozen very different curricula for sale and they vary dramatically in quality. The CPD-Jetala Curriculum was written by a Master driving Instructor with over 40 years of experience, an Ontario Teaching Certificate, three university degrees and who also teaches driving instructors at several Ontario Community Colleges. The CPD-Jetala Curriculum exceeds the MTO standards in all areas and has been used to train more than 160,000 Novice Drivers since the MTO revised the standards in 2009. It is by far the most popular Novice driver BDE curriculum in Ontario. On the other hand, some curricula barely meet the MTO’s standards yet can still call themselves ‘MTO Approved’.
Mentoring Tools to Assist Parents when Practicing with a Student
The highest quality programs such as the CPD-Jetala Curriculum provide Mentoring tools to assist parents and students with practicing between lessons from the professional driving instructor. This structured practice means that students progress more quickly and are far less likely to fail a Provincial G1 Exit Road Test or to require additional lessons at extra cost.
Instructor Credentials & Insurance Coverage
Driving Instructors must be licensed by the MTO and usually are separately licensed for the municipality in which they are teaching as well (check with the municipal business licensing dept. in your city). Driving schools must only use vehicles which have specialized automobile insurance that has specific coverage for teaching new drivers (6D endorsement). Ask for proof of a 6D endorsement when signing your student up for any program. (Instructor vehicles must have a minimum $2 Million liability and 6D Endorsement). Without this special insurance the vehicle may not be fully insured in the event of a collision. Instructors are required to display their Provincial Instructor Licences to New Drivers (a pink and grey plastic card with their licence number, name and their picture which matches their Driver’s Licence) and must produce the licence when requested. In-class instructors will have an additional in-classroom designation in the upper right hand corner of their licence. Please note that an instructor whose licence is revoked by the MTO may still be displaying it since they are valid for 3 years and MTO does not recall a revoked instructor’s licence. If concerned, you can validate an instructor’s credentials or make a complaint by contacting the MTO’s Beginner Driver Education office at:Ministry of Transportation Program Development & Evaluation Branch 1201 Wilson Avenue, Building B, Room 143 Downsview, ON M3M 1J8 Tel: 416-235-5540/1-877-235-5540, Fax: 416-235-4646 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
In Class Curriculum and Requirements
Classroom training is critically important in preparing the students for the in-vehicle component. Some schools only go through the motions without actively engaging the students. A quality driving school will make every attempt to actively engage students in the learning process using interactive teaching tools and authentic real life scenarios, not just a bunch of boring lectures. This gives students a solid theoretical background of safe driving principles and the laws and rules that govern our highways. An approved curriculum is supposed to contain a minimum of 50% of the student’s classroom time engaged in indirect activity based instruction where they get to work together and not merely listen to lectures. The CPD-Jetala Curriculum has over 80% indirect activity based instruction. Some curricula are allowed to rely on up to 8hrs. of passive video presentations to cover the required learning outcomes instead of actively engaging the students in interesting and relevant interactive materials. While the CPD-Jetala Curriculum does include some video presentation material, it is highly focused as a supplement to the interactive materials and is never relied upon to have the students just ‘watch and learn’ on their own. MTO approved classroom facilities are supposed to meet strict guidelines. They include:
- Fixed hard surfaces for students to write on. Lecture style seating and writing on clipboards is not allowed.
- A minimum of 1 square metre (or 10 square feet) of space per student
Disreputable schools often pack students into small crowded classroom spaces. If you are concerned, contact the MTO at the office listed above.
Private In-Car Lessons
Beware of driving schools that change instructors frequently without any notification. A quality school will adhere to a continuum of service and would only change an instructor after discussing it with the student or parent under some extenuating circumstance. Beware as well of instructors who spend more than 10% of the time driving the vehicle while the New Driver watches them demonstrate. Professional instructors are trained to teach from the passenger’s seat while the student drives from behind the wheel. Only in exceptional circumstances would a highly trained professional instructor find it necessary to take the wheel while the student observes from the passenger seat. Beware as well of instructors who disrupt lessons by having their students drive them on personal errands and take breaks during scheduled lesson time.
Be Informed and Choose Wisely
Driving a motor vehicle is likely to be the most dangerous activity the average person needs a licence to perform. Make sure you do the research to ensure that you get a high quality program and not just the lowest price. All driving schools are NOT created equal. You can check out the MTO’s information page for New Drivers at: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/dandv/driver/gradu/studentinfo.shtml