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December 20, 2008


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That's what I've been saying all along. Instead of the government trying to stop us from driving "outside the norm" by imposing stupid and right-violating laws on us, why not change the driving education system? First, make it MANDATORY. PERIOD. Second, MORE HOURS ON THE ROAD. AND IN DIFFERENT CONDITIONS. Watching the latest season of Top Gear, Britain's famous motoring show, I was painfully reminded about how inadequate our driver education system is. This was the episode where James May was being taught how to drive by Hakinnen, a 2-time F1 Champion. Finland has the most F1 Champs per capita, and it's not surprising why. If I remember correctly (and partially unfortunately) they have to do some 30 hours of driving at NIGHT, 6 hours of driving on gravel, and more including daytime driving. I wouldn't be surprised if they had to do part of their driving in the snow and on a skid-pad too. Their 30 hours of driving the night alone is as much as our kids spend in the classroom and on the road COMBINED. How sad is that? No one, can learn how to drive in 10 hours. Come on Ontario, get your crap in order...

Sean McConnell

Some things I just know!... and this is one of them:
Those of us older than, say, 40, are much more confident drivers because we REALLY learned how to drive on snow by taking our rear-wheel drive 70's cars, with our FULL G license at 16, into the nearest vacant lot every chance we had, to "PLAY"!

Donuts were the first order of the day (not the food kind). Then we would advance to tight-circle drifting (though that term had not been coined yet). I liked to test myself by seeing how close I could drift around a concrete light standard in my '74 Astra GT (4-spd). Eventually, mastering the old "shift down to 1st and dump the clutch thing" became popular (kids today call it "e-braking").

As a 16 yr. old kid, I loved snow so much I just hated to see spring rudely rip it away from me!

But then, a few years later, a horrible thing happened... malls stayed OPEN on SUNDAYS!! There went our play days!! Then rear-wheel drive cars became virtually extinct in the late 80's and parking lot drifting became a thing of the past.

Even today, in my mid-40's, I still can't resist the temptation to "let 'r hang out" just a tad in my big black Lincoln. It probably looks silly in such a stately car, but I like the feeling of knowing where the limit is, then crossing it a wee bit just to stay sharp.

I drove from Toronto to Stratford during last Sunday's weather issues. The roads weren't perfect, but they weren't all that bad either. But it really surprised me to see column after column of slow cars piddling along in the center lane! I really felt goofy passing so many cars using the near-empty right lane. I just hope Germany wasn't watching. They'd be disgusted with our wretched lane etiquette. Recently, I had the privilege of getting a free refresher course from the Country's top Drivers Ed program. I was horrified to see they STILL teach you to drive in the "lane of least resistance", not "keep right except to pass". So I (in my mind) threw up my hands and gave up on this Province's ability to properly train the next generation of drivers.

I have no doubt in my mind that OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino would have picked me out as public enemy #1 as I was clearly moving along faster than most (but not all) along the 401, but my EARLY "stunting" in mall parking lots, combined with my comfort behind the wheel of big, heavy, American luxury cars made me a much lesser risk than the lines of nervous, ill-trained do-gooders who were probably cursing me as I went on by.

One last comment on winter driving. Growing up in a small town like mine meant SNOWMOBILING!! I treat driving on snow much like snowmobiling in that the machine is not always going to stay straight and smooth. I know my car is floating up there on a cushion of snow and ice, and I don't freak-out every time it gets a little crooked. I just "gently" correct the attitude of the car. No big deal. Oh, and "hopping" the snowy crowns that form between lanes, that takes skill too ;)

Must stop typing now!
Sean McConnell

Phil McDonald

I hope Ontario does not mandate snow tires. For people who live in apartments, where are they going to store their all-seasons in winter? Then there is the problem of keeping track of where the tires were previously for tire rotation intervals. If they are going to mandate them then I would agree that if you live up north (Barrie? and beyond) that would be OK. But south of that I would say 90% of winter driving is done on plowed or dry roads. As for the 10% of snowy roads driving, SLOW DOWN and drive according to the weather conditions. Julian Fantino is talking about a new law to handle the yahoos that drive too fast on slippery roads. I see the term "learn to drive" mentioned and it applies - snow tires or not.

Jim Kenzie

To Phil McDonald:

First, have no fear: Ontario doesn't look ready to mandate snow tires, although no matter what kind of housing accommodation you have, a single fender-bender can cost you more than a complete set of snows. I think even for 10 percent of our driving they are a great investment.

And some tire retailers will store your snows for you.

The legislature also seems cool to Fantino's recently-requested winter-driving legislation. There are already plenty of laws that cover these scenarios.

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