Experience Required

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I don’t think I’m a bad driver. I mean, I think I’m actually a pretty good driver, and while I realise that most people probably think they are pretty good drivers, I really do believe that my driving ability is better than average. I got my license in 1980 and, despite some ebb and flow of occasional demerit points over the years, have held it continuously since then. I drove a taxi for more than three years and was spending 14 hours a day on the road in Sydney traffic. I’ve been a courier driver on and off for a number of different companies. As a 4WD club member I take great pride in my ability to drive well, under control and according to the conditions around me. Heck, according to my 1988/89 tax return I have even been a professional rally driver at one point, since I earned significant sponsorship income driving in the Wynns Safari that year. I would estimate I have driven well over half a million kilometres, in all sorts of conditions, both onroad and offroad. Apparently, none of this matters to the Ontario Ministry of Transport. When I arrive in Canada I will be offered a G1 learners permit. Oh, if I bring an International Licence (which has no driving test attached to it) they will graciously waive the need for me to have a fully licenced Canadian driver in the car with me, but its still just a learners permit. Apparently I only have to hold my G1 for a minimum of 48 hours and I will be able to sit for a practical driving test, upon the successful completion of which, I will be given a G2 licence. This G2 licence rewards my 25 years of driving experience with… nothing. It treats me as a first year driver. Aren’t I lucky? “So what?” you say. The serious implication of all this is that when I attempt to get insurance for a car I get treated as a foreigner with absolutely no driving experience. I’ve had two places now tell me that I should expect to pay somewhere in the vicinity of $5000 Canadian dollars for my annual insurance premium! What a joke! I’m going to go talk with an insurance broker once I arrive in Oakville and see if I can find some way to make this whole thing more agreeable, but I’m not too impressed. Although I consider myself a safe and skilful driver, I have a few offences against my name over the past 25 years, including a few that I accrued in the last couple of years… low level speeding, less-than-15km-over-the-limit sort of stuff. You know, 61 in a 50 zone… real dangerous stuff! One insurance company that was recommended to us as being easy to deal with and understanding of the issues facing teaching exchangees, was hopeless. The guy I spoke to told me that if I had a couple of tickets in the last three years they didn’t want to know me. Maybe he was just an officious prick who was trying to be difficult, but he basically just terminated the conversation and said they were not interested in insuring me. How come they can NOT recognise my Australian driving licence, but they can make judgements about my Australian driving record? Are they interested in taking my driving experience into account or not? Surely it’s one or the other, but they can’t have it both ways. They can’t say on the one hand that they won’t acknowledge my 25 years of driving history, but they will acknowledge my traffic offences. So at the moment I’m looking at a $5000 bill for car insurance… and I’m just a tad pissed off about that. Can you tell? Oh, by the way, I can hire a car to drive, no problem. But I can’t buy one until I get insurance, and I can’t get insurance until I get a licence. And they will give me a licence that treats me as a brand new, no experience whatsoever, driver. Hmmmmmm. BTW, if you want to listed to the bizarre conversation I had with the MOT, here is the audio file, courtesy of Skype... 6Mb download, so patience is a virtue.

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