Defensive Driving Courses Ontario:10 Top Facts, Rules & Requirements

In this article, we will find out more about defensive driving courses Ontario and much more. Driving a car is a part of daily life In Canada, as in many other countries. Almost every adult has a driver’s license and gets behind the wheel. It is so common and usual that sometimes we forget how responsible and risky it is.

A good driving technique is essential for defensive driving. Just one right decision can help you avoid road accidents, getting a ticket, and many other troubles while driving.

Unfortunately, a driver’s license does not guarantee safe and responsible road behavior. Ontario driving statistics show that the number of driving accidents and traffic fatalities is still high on Ontario roads.

That is why driving courses are so important. They include three key elements: driving technique, Highway Code and principles of defensive driving.

Besides analyzing challenging driving situations, a qualified instructor will teach a novice driver to handle any road situation, predict others’ behavior on the road and deal with every type of unexpected driving scenario.

3 Basic Principles of Defensive Driving

To feel confident behind the wheel, you must know traffic rules and driving techniques that help drive safely. Violation of these rules is the major cause of car accidents.

Traffic rules are made by federal, provincial and municipal governments, while police are responsible for control over observance of the rules. If you break a traffic rule, you can be fined, sent to jail, or lose your driver’s license.

Defensive driving is based on three key principles: visibility, space, and communication. Each of them is very important and must be strictly observed when driving.

Principle 1: Visibility

Any driver should understand how important it is to be aware of the traffic in front, behind and beside him. Always stay focused when driving.

Observe other traffic, check your car’s mirrors every few seconds and do not get distracted. Remember, just one mistake can cost you a life or the lives of other people!

Maintain a safe distance when changing speed and keep in mind the blind spots of other drivers. Be very careful at dusk and at dawn. These are the periods when many drivers can’t adapt quickly to changing lighting.

Your safety directly depends on your carefulness. Before making a driving maneuver, make sure that other drivers can see you. Do not forget to use signal lights when requested. 

Principle 2: Managing the space around your car 

When driving, always leave space in front, behind and on both sides of the car. This will help you see and be seen by other drivers.

It will also give you more time and space to react to a critical driving situation and avoid car accidents.

The most common reason for car accidents is the violation of this simple rule. 

Principle 3: Communication with other road users

Being a selfish driver is not only unwise but also very dangerous.

Be a polite driver and communicate with other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians on the road and at intersections.

Let them know whenever you want to stop, slow down, turn or make any driving maneuver. 

Use your car turn signals, change lanes smoothly and safely, give way to other vehicles and pedestrians when required.

If your turn signals and brake lights are broken, use hand signals.

Pay attention to the hand signals of other road users. For example, a cyclist can give a right-turn signal by extending the right hand and arm horizontally.

Unfortunately, this principle is underestimated by many drivers, which leads to unpleasant consequences.

Follow these rules to make Ontario’s roads the safest:

  • Never drink alcohol while driving. Do not drive if you are taking medications that may affect your attention and concentration.
  • Always wear a seat belt. Children must use the appropriate car seat.
  • Observe the speed limits indicated on traffic signs. Where there are no posted speed limits, the maximum speed is 50 km/h in cities, towns, villages, and 80 km/h elsewhere.

    In case of bad road and adverse weather conditions (wet, icy or slippery roads), adjust your speed and slow down.
  • Don’t take risks. Change lanes correctly, don’t cut someone off in traffic, and don’t start driving when you see a yellow light.
  • Do not drive if you feel angry, sick or exhausted.
  • If in doubt, give way to another driver and let him go first.
  • Do not get distracted by loud music, talking on the phone or something else.
  • Always check the blind spots. Adjust your car mirrors for maximum visibility and safety. The blind spots are generally at the rear left and right sides of the car.
  • If traffic police direct traffic, follow their instructions, even if they differ from traffic signs.
  • Before entering an intersection, check the traffic in all directions including pedestrian ways and bicycle paths.

Requirements for Enrolling in Defensive Driving Courses in Ontario

Before studying the requirements, let’s take a look at the driver’s license classification chart.

In Ontario, there are 12 Classes of licenses that qualify you to drive a different type of vehicle (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, G1, G2, M, M1, M2). 

For example, you need a Class G license to drive a car, van or small truck. You must have this license before getting a license to drive any other type of vehicle. The only exception is motorcycles.

You can get a motorcycle Class M license without getting a Class G license first.

To drive some recreational vehicles, you need a special license. For example, if you plan to drive an off-the-road vehicle or snowmobile, you will need additional training.

Requirements for enrolling in defensive driving courses in Ontario:

  • you must be at least 16 years old;
  • the driving program is open to all students of private and public schools.

To apply for a license, you must bring the documents that prove your identity to the DriveTest Center or Travel Point (a temporary DriveTest Center, where there is no regional representative office). 

These documents can be:

  • Passport (Canadian or foreign);
  • Canadian Citizenship Card with photo;
  • Permanent immigration documents;
  • Temporary immigration documents.

Graduated Licensing System

In Ontario, there is a two-step licensing system that allows new drivers to get driving experience and skills gradually. The two-step licensing process takes at least 20 months to complete.

To apply for a license, you must be at least 16 years old, pass a vision test, and pass the road theory test.

After you pass these tests, you will enter the first level and get a Class G1 license.

To become fully licensed, you must pass two obligatory road tests.

After passing the first exam, you will enter the second level (Class G2 license), and after passing the second one you will get a full Class G driving license.

Here are the rules you have to follow at each level:

The first level (Class G1): (12 months)

  • The accompanying rider must sit in the front passenger seat. This person must have a valid Class G license (or higher) and at least 4 years of driving experience.
  • Each passenger in the car must be wearing a seat belt.
  • You must not drive on 400-series highways where the speed limit exceeds 80 km/h. 
  • Also, it is not allowed to drive on some high-speed roads including Queen Elizabeth Way, Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway in the Greater Toronto area, the E.C. Row Expressway in Windsor and the Conestoga Parkway in Kitchener-Waterloo.

    The exception is when the accompanying rider is your driving instructor.
  • You must not drive after drinking alcohol.
  • You must not drive between midnight and 5 a.m.

The second level (Class G2): (12 months)

  • Each passenger in the car must be wearing a seat belt.
  • The restriction on driving between midnight and 5 a.m. applies to drivers under the age of 19. 
  • You must not drive after drinking alcohol.
  • During the first six months after getting a Class G2 license, you can carry only one passenger under the age of 19.

    After six months (until you get a full G license or you turn 20) you are allowed to carry up to 3 passengers under the age of 19.
  • After 12 months at the second level, you can take a road test to qualify for a full G license.

When applying for a license, you must pay a fee, which includes the cost of a knowledge test, the first road test and a five-year licensing fee.

An additional fee is charged for the second road test and any repeating tests you need to take.

Requirements for Defensive Driving Courses Ontario for International Students

International students can also take driving courses along with Canadian citizens.

If you are one of them, you will need the following documents to complete driving courses and get a full license (optionally):

  • Permanent immigration documents:
    • Permanent Resident Card (PRC);
    • Record of Landing (Form 1000);
    • Confirmation of Permanent Residence (Form IMM 5292).

  • Temporary immigration documents:
    • Student Authorization (IMM 1442);
    • Employment Authorization (IMM 1442);
    • Visitor Record (IMM 1442);
    • Temporary Resident’s Permit (IMM 1442);
    • Report Pursuant to the Immigration Act (IMM 1442 with photo).

If you already have a valid driver’s license from another province or country, you can use it for 60 days in Ontario.

If you want to continue driving after this period, you must get an Ontario driver’s license.

However, there are countries that have license-exchange agreements with Ontario and other Canadian provinces.

They are Austria, Belgium, Great Britain, the USA, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and others.

International students from these countries can get a full Class G license if they have an equivalent Class driver’s license.

If you have two years of driving experience, you can take the second-level road test to get a full Class G license.

Requirements for Defensive Driving Courses in Ontario

Driving courses will teach you the skills necessary for safe and responsible driving, as well as help you to take the road test sooner and save money on insurance premiums.

That is why choosing a driving school is one of the most important steps.

Before choosing one, do a little research and analyze all possible options.

In this case, you will feel comfortable and confident behind the wheel. And this is exactly what a novice driver needs.

A good and empathetic instructor will share his knowledge with you and help you be a better driver.

The ideal option is a driving school that is close to your home or work. It is more comfortable and you’ll never be late.

Don’t forget to check the course program. Besides basic road rules, it should include strategic driving techniques, risk perception, night driving, and driving in adverse conditions.

All government-approved driving schools offer paid training that involves classroom instruction and in-car lessons.

The license is renewed every three years if a driving school meets legislative and program requirements.

Generally, driving courses last at least 40 hours. A driving school offers 20 hours of in-class lessons, 10 hours of in-car training, and 10 hours of flexible instruction that can include the following:

  • Classroom driving instruction;
  • Computer-based instruction;
  • In-car training;
  • Driving simulation;
  • Homework.

So how do you choose the best driving school and defensive driving courses? Use this simple checklist to make the right choice and save time:

  • When studying the course program, check the list of topics covered during the training.
  • Instructor qualifications and experience are also very important. An instructor must also be licensed. If you are paying for driving lessons, you want to know for sure that your instructors have professional qualifications.
  • Study student progress and evaluation reports.
  • Make sure you will have a minimum of 20 hours of classroom instruction, 10 hours of in-car training and 10 hours of flexible instruction.
  • Training materials must be up-to-date. The training conditions must be adequate and comfortable.
  • The same applies to driving school vehicles. They must be equipped with a brake pedal on the passenger’s side so that the instructor can perform an emergency stop if necessary.

    Check the condition of the vehicles. They all must be marked as cars for learner drivers.
  • Find out if the school provides a car for the road test.
  • A well-established driving school provides only advanced tools and methods for teaching. Make sure your driving school is one of those.
  • Clear the statements of the contract with the driving school. Be sure to know the cost of each block of the course, including the use of the car for a road test and any subsequent test.
  • Read feedback and reviews online.
  • Find out if the school issues consumer protection insurance.

When you successfully complete the driving course, the driving school will certify you online, and then all the information is sent to the Ministry of Transportation.

Some drivers complete driver education courses to avoid losing their driver’s license or to improve their skills.

Many driving schools offer such additional courses besides government-approved educational programs.

These courses include transport law, assessing risks, cargo securing for road transport, correct behavior in case of a car accident, providing first aid to accident victims, etc.

One of the most popular training courses is emergency driving.

The course program involves a lot of driving practice because in case of an emergency you will have limited time to make a decision.

It should be noted that the development of digital technologies affects the learning process.

According to Staffbe, an IT outstaffing company, the eLearning industry has grown by more than 800% since 2000. Supplygem provides similar data.

Along with traditional driving schools, there are more and more online driving courses.

However, it should be understood that eLearning and digital education do not replace attending a driving school.

Even if you listen to online driving instruction instead of classroom lessons, you will still need in-car training to get a full Class license.

In conclusion

According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, driving skills significantly reduce the number of car accidents and traffic fines.

Defense driving courses will help you become a skillful and responsible driver who drives carefully and makes the right decisions quickly. At each lesson, you will analyze examples of real road situations and learn how to handle them.

A professional instructor will share all the driving tips with you and warn you about possible changes in traffic rules so that you pass the road test on the first try.

After completing the driving course, you will improve your driving skills, learn how to adapt to road conditions and changing weather, find out how to avoid a car accident, and will get better at driving.

Your first driving experience will determine your attitude to everything related to driving in the future.

No matter if you want to become a professional driver or just want to get home from work in a more comfortable way.

Anyway, you need to learn all the principles of defensive driving.

Only this will save you and other road users from a lot of stressful and critical traffic situations, fines, and car accidents.

Check out the 30 Top Driving schools in Canada.

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