‘They’re forgetting what they learned:’ Ontario teens face hard road getting driver’s licences

Ontario driving schools say they’re frustrated with the province-wide delays in road testing, saying that some of their students are waiting so long to take their driving exam, they’re forgetting what they learned in class.

“They’re forgetting what they learned one week or two weeks later or three weeks later, so it is quite frustrating for both student and instructors,” said Bob Karmakar, a driving instructor with AMB Driving.

In the Greater Toronto Area, Karmakar has consistently seen driving exam wait times take as long as five to six months — ever since the province re-opened DriveTest centres after COVID-19-related closures.

He adds that by the time his students’ test dates roll around, they’ve forgotten everything they’ve learned and have to rebook their lessons.

“Unfortunately, they’re not getting the practice at home and without the proper practice, they forget what they’ve learned and so we have to reteach everything,” said Karmakar.

“They get very rusty.”

But even signing up for driving school classes around the GTA isn’t easy, since many have long wait times due to taking on fewer students.

“Before, it would have been at least 10 students per day,” Karmakar said. “Now is more like four or five.”

He adds it has turned into a vicious cycle of trying to get in new students, while old ones are coming back to be re-instructed.

“We have to get that new students started and the  previous ones get delayed, so it’s taking about two or three weeks minimum to get them back in the car,” he said.

Karmakar says that the decrease in students per day is due to the rigorous safety and cleaning measures that they have to conduct for each lesson.

“We have to be sure they have a mask on, we do a temperature check, we have to wear mask or shields or a combination of the two and clean the car out so that it’s spotless, and only then, can they sit in the car,” he explained.

Shahid Patel says he’s encountered the same problem at his driving school, Today’s Driver.

The only solution I see is that they should open mobile centres for DriveTest and they can clear the backlog,” said Patel.

“They have to work now, otherwise this problem is not going to go away soon,” he added, saying the wait times will only get worse once the economy completely reopens.

In a statement to Global News, Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation said, “DriveTest will offer additional road test appointments to help address the current backlog.”

It added that it would be hiring and training fifty driver examiners by December, which would result in an additional 18,000 road tests each month.

“The ministry and DriveTest do not prohibit applicants from attending their DriveTest centre of choice. Allowing customers to choose any DriveTest Centre regardless of residence, optimizes the capacity of the entire DriveTest network and improves customer service through improved access to the earliest possible road tests dates,” said a ministry spokesperson.

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