Ontario’s acting auditor general says the province’s removal of three-point turns, parallel parking and other requirements from G class driving tests was done without a full review and may have impacted road safety.
Acting auditor general Nick Stavropoulos says in the annual report that certain manoeuvres were removed from the examinations in an effort to clear the backlog of road tests caused by COVID-19 closures.
The report says test requirements were reduced in January 2022 without formal approval from cabinet, and the driver examinations also no longer required a roadside stop or included a residential section.
The auditor’s report also flagged “limited” retraining for suspended drivers, saying those who received two or more suspensions in the previous year had a fatal collision rate six times higher than the general driver population.
The audit also found that some groups of novice drivers, such as those from urban areas who chose to take their road exams in rural or suburban test centres and less-experienced drivers from other countries, had higher collision rates after licensing than others — suggesting their driving abilities are not being tested effectively.
“Ensuring drivers have effective training and are skilled at driving safely before receiving their licences is critical to keep Ontario’s roads safe,” Stavropoulos said in a news release.
He said that even though the road test backlog was cleared in the fall of 2022, the Ministry of Transportation “kept the reduced G (highway) road test for almost two years longer than originally planned without conducting proper policy analysis and evaluation of the road safety implications.”
The audit also concluded that the ministry had limited oversight of driving schools and instructors, “which meant it may not have been aware of some questionable training or business practices” at the schools that could have undermined driving tests across the province.
Stavropoulos also noted that “despite repeated failures over 10 years to deliver on performance targets,” the ministry awarded a new contract to the same company to continue delivering driver examinations.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2023.