Best way to get a driver's license in Ontario?
April 2, 2015 10:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm finally getting off of my ass and getting my driver's license after 20+ years of not needing or having one. Some friends have recommended Young Drivers as the best way to get the training necessary to pass the test (and learn how to drive) but it's pretty expensive ($1000+ the last time I checked). Does anyone have any other suggestions for someone like me who knows mostly nothing about driving?

( live in Toronto, Ontario, east side just north of the beach if that's useful.)
posted by theNonsuch to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
At 34, I've got my (second) driving test booked for next week. I knew nothing about driving, seriously, nothing. If you really do know nothing, you pretty much have to take a driving course with in-car lessons. No one you know is realistically going to have the time/know-how to take you driving for the 20 or so hours of instruction you need while making sure to expose you to all the different possible situations you need to know how to handle - traffic circles, merging onto the highway, left turn at green light in a busy intersection, parallel parking etc.

In Edmonton I found an excellent driving school that had a classroom component plus 20 hours in-car instruction. It was about $850. That's still expensive, but maybe think of it this way: every time you take a driver's test it costs about $100. Pass your first or second time - save money! And many courses qualify you for an insurance reduction program. Look for one of those. And it's money well-spent if it will make you a safer driver.

I didn't choose the more expensive and more well-known option (AMA). And I didn't need to. I'm sure you can find something similar in Toronto; there must be a bazillion driving schools. If friends can't recommend a cheaper option than Young Drivers, spend some time reading reviews online (via Yelp for example). Narrow things down by trying to find one that operates in your neighborhood.
posted by kitcat at 12:02 PM on April 2, 2015

I started the whole driver's licence process 8 years ago so some of this may be out of date. I didn't take lessons at any point but did a lot of driving from the moment I got my G1.

Step 1 is to get your G1 licence. This is a multiple choice test done on a computer at the testing facility. All you need to do for this is to study the driver's handbook. It was an actual book 10 years ago but I don't know if it still is anymore. It is relatively basic stuff and you have probably learned most of the stuff there just by being alive for the last 20+ years.

Once you get the G1 licence you can then start driving with supervision. I still remember the first time I drove the whole experience felt very similar to driving in an arcade racing game (although without any bumping and at much lower speeds). If you have a friend/family member who has some time and a car then they can sit with you while you drive around an empty parking lot to get a feel for things. You'll be stuck with a G1 for something like 8-12 months depending on if you take lessons or not. With a G1 you can't do things like drive after midnight or on the highway.

If you want to do things quickly then after getting the G1 sign up for lessons with a reputable company (Young Driver's/CAA) and in the 20 hours they should get you up to speed for the G2 test. If you aren't going to be doing a lot of driving outside of these lessons then you may as well book them closer to when you'll be eligible to take the test (so that you don't forget too much).

You will see signs on bus shelters for other driving schools. Treat them the same way you would any service you see advertised on a bus shelter. From what I understand these places are pretty good at getting people licences but not as good at actually teaching them how to drive.

If you have more time then you can put in hours on your own by becoming the errand-runner for the friend/family member with the car. They'll still have to be in the car with you but can do other things while you drive around.

Once you pass the G2 test you pretty much have a full licence. There are some differences between it and a full G, but I don't remember what they were (I think they had something to do with allowable blood alcohol levels). At some point before your G2 expires you'll have to take the full G test. It is like the G2 test but will have some highway driving component as well.

You have to complete the whole process in 5 years otherwise you will have to start all over again. So once you get the G1 licence, get the G2 and full G as soon as you can. You don't want to be in a situation where you have your G2 and let things slide and then scramble at the end to book a test in the last few days, because if you fail that test (and you may get one re-test as well) then all that time will be wasted.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:32 PM on April 2, 2015

There was a crackdown on driving schools in 2013: link

any portmanteau in a storm pretty much has it. Also see MTO's page about choosing a driving school (and note the list of revoked ones!).
posted by foxjacket at 12:49 PM on April 2, 2015

Go to Young Drivers. Yes, it's expensive, but they are not teaching you to pass the test, they are teaching you to not die and not kill anyone. Also, yes, do get your G as soon as you're able. I think it's ridiculous that you can't just keep a G2 for your whole life (I would have -- does anyone need to drink and drive and haul around seatbeltless people? Why are we licensing people to drink and drive and carry around passengers with no seatbelt?), but can't, so don't forget to get the G and avoid starting over.

See also, this question, where I said more or less the same thing and other people said the same and other things.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:10 PM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

I would start with a good driving school's basic package, and pay for additional lessons if necessary (either with the school or with a different instructor). I learned to drive by doing that, and also by driving with someone in the car as much as I could.

Here is a related previous question:, I write at length about my experience in the thread.
posted by lafemma at 1:11 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is far ahead... but still useful and made a difference for me, and others who tested in Ontario. For your G tests book in the Morningside testing center - the ramp onto the highway is SUPER long and makes it very easy to merge "correctly" for the highway portion of the test.
posted by olya at 7:26 PM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

I took YD years ago as a teenager. I'm not sure if this is still the case, but back then (early 90s) taking my training with them meant reduced rates on insurance for me as a driver of our family's car. It was definitely worth the investment up front.

According to the YD website, "Depending on the insurer, substantial discounts are available to first time insured drivers to those who have participated in a defensive driver education course, as offered by Young Drivers of Canada." That may be just as true for other driver's ed courses, too, though, so you may want to do some more investigating.
posted by LynnDee at 7:44 PM on April 2, 2015

I took CAA
It was cheaper than young drivers and still talked about defensive driving. They may also have adult courses at individual locations. Any certified training will give you insurance discounts.
posted by captaincrouton at 7:10 AM on April 5, 2015

« Older Bleach Everywhere; Worried About Fetus, Cat...   |   What do I do with this big honkin' mirror? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.