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Graduated licensing: painful, but successful

By: Adam Daifallah

Date: Thursday, 17. August 2006

This article was first published on April 6, 1999. This was just a few days after the end of the first cycle of Ontario, Canada's graduated driver licensing program, which began on April 1, 1994. Under the system, new drivers have 5 years to exit the system by successfully completing the second level (G2) road test.

It may be hard to believe, but it was over five years ago now-April 1, 1994-that Ontario Premier Bob Rae's controversial Bill 122 (known as the Graduated Licensing System) came into effect in Ontario. Many previous governments had promised to bring in such reforms but Rae, to the chagrin of many 15-year-olds at the time like myself, finally did it. I remember the chill that shot up my spine when I realized I would be among the first batch of young people affected by this new program. I recall all the moaning and groaning when students in my grade found out about this new prolonged way of earning a full drivers license. Many felt slighted because we were the first ones to miss out on the old, easier way.

It seemed so complicated and unnecessary to us. The old system was so much simpler. You wrote a short test to earn a learner's permit and once you got that, you were eligible to take the short, 20 minute driving test to earn a full license with no restrictions immediately. You could basically take the test when you felt like it.

Under Graduated Licensing, however, you must write the written test to earn a permit, then wait and practice driving for eight months and complete an approved driver's education course (or wait twelve months, without driver's ed) before you can take a short road test to drive alone. After passing the road test, the license earned is called a G2 which enables you to drive alone with some minor restrictions. After no less than a year of driving with a G2, you take a second, more comprehensive and longer road test to earn a full G license.

Looking back now, sure I was bitter and unhappy-we all were. But a study released last year by Ontario's Ministry of Transportation reveals that Graduated Licensing has been an extremely effective and successful policy for improving driver safety.

Young drivers have traditionally had high collision rates when compared to older age groups. This was one of the major reasons for bringing in the new program. Since its inception, collision rates for novice drivers have decreased an incredible 31 per cent. Also, alcohol was a factor in 27 per cent fewer young driver collisions. Overall, the estimated total cost savings to society, when factoring in savings in property damage, emergency response and medial care, lost future earnings, etc.. is estimated at $59 million over the last five years. Wow!

A Minor Problem

In my mind, there is only one minor problem-the relative lack of difference between the G2 and the full G license. Under the G2, the only restrictions are that (a) you must have a blood-alcohol level of 0 when driving and, (b) there cannot be more people in the car than there are seatbelts. That's not very restrictive in my books. For this reason, there has been very little desire among young people to book and take the test for the full G license and pay the $75 fee to take it. Their reasoning? Think about it. Why pay money and waste time to pass a road test so that you can drink and drive and overcrowd a car? There's no incentive.

A lot of young drivers are putting this test off to the last minute-which is causing major overcrowding at testing centers and long waiting periods. Students are complaining that they are having to wait months now to take their final "G" test. This issue will have to be addressed soon.

Graduated licensing was one of the few actions taken by the New Democratic Party when they were in government which received all-party support in the legislature-because it made sense. It has saved time, money, and most importantly, lives-and no one can argue with that.

* * This article was originally published April 6, 1999 in the Peterborough Examiner newspaper, when Adam Daifallah was a student at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.

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All Comments (16)

Showing 1 - 16 comments

mark d,

graduated licensing KILLS career opportunities. doesn't make safer drivers. shows like Canadas worst driver is proof of that. if you have money you get a drivers license. simple as that.


the only ways to have a car in Ontario is
1. make over 35.000 a year
2. have well off or rich parents
3. win lottery
4. deal drugs(or other black market products) the system assumes if you are well off and can afford a car that you are safe but they get the most speeding tickets. the poor drivers(making 20.000 a year or less)for the most part obay the laws because they might be just one ticket away from financial devastation hence loss of car.
sure lives are saved if you (in legal terms) constructively prohibit the poor from driving. but it is the rich ones that can easily afford tickets we should worry about.
that's my rant. any responses?


if you need glasses a g1 license can cost almost $700. many of my friends cant be bothered to get a license because of cost and wait times. maybe that's why not as many cars are being sold.


I think what all of you are failing to realize is that, yes, there definitely is incentive to fully update your license to "G" rather than remain at "G2". Insurance companies take into consideration your license level and basically translate that into "level of experience". To them, G2 practically means zero experience. Therefore, your insurance rates are high and are costing you/your parents excessive amounts of dollars. Once you graduate to a "G" license, you are now recognized as a driver with some experience and they begin counting your years from there. So have some courtesy for whoever is paying your insurance (likely your parents) and get your full license to save them some money.


it's 8 months if you take course.You can take YD any age ... i did at 35!


i had a g1 licence in 2001 i let it expire
(no money) now i got it again in aug. of last year (g1) now i have to wait a year again. or 8 months if i take driving any 28 year olds go to young drivers?. i know how to drive! need car now!

Neeta Gurtu,

I believe if one has G2 licence and can drive on high way whats the point of getting G licence. It does not make sense to me!
And secondly what if some one doesn't want to drive on highway.


ya it sucks


the mto site says that G2 license holder:

"the number of young passengers that teen G2 drivers can carry will be limited from midnight to 5 a.m. as follows:

Initially, G2 drivers 19 or under can carry only one passenger aged 19 or under.

After the first six months, and until the G2 driver earns a full G licence or turns 20, they can carry only three passengers aged 19 or under."

with the stipulation that

"These restrictions will not apply if the G2 driver is accompanied by a full "G" licensed driver (with at least four years driving experience) in the front seat, or if the passengers are immediate family members."

Note that you can drive around with your immediate family members i.e. just don't put other people's kids in danger, do whatever you want to do to your own siblings etc - excellent rule!!!


M.C. If you live in Ontario, Canada here's the rule --

"New drivers must hold a G2 licence for a minimum of 12 months before they can attempt the G2 road test. At this level, you have more privileges because of your driving experience. You may drive without an accompanying driver on all Ontario roads anytime. However, you are still required to:

maintain a zero blood alcohol level while driving;

ensure the number of passengers in the vehicle is limited to the number of working seat belts.


So could u go on the Highway with a G2
Thankx Peace


The logic behind this system is somewhat backwards concerning the highway. On your G1, you're not allowed on any 400 series without a driving instructor, it can't be your parent. However, once you get your G2, you can go on it alone? I think they should just do everything in one test and be done with it.

Ontario Sucks,

The best way to discribe this is creative bureaucracy. It may actually be less safe as statistics show. The G1 is same as a learner permit (elsewhere) and G2 is almost same as full license. The only different beside the one mentioned in the article is that now not fully tested drivers (ie highway) are allowed to drive anywhere and everywhere for 5 years before being tested if they are able to do so.
On the plus side this structure brings more money to government coffers. So the government can spend it on other pin brain ideas.




does this mean there should be a special license for people that don't want to, or can't, go on the highway

sandra carvalho,

i know it has saved lives which is very good but i think graduated licence is not right because a lot of people that want to take their licence are'nt because they are scared to go to the hiway what do you think?

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