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Friday, March 22, 2013

Canada's Worst Driver

I talked about my fear of driving a couple of entries ago, and how that paralyzing fear has kind of impacted my life. My fear of getting behind the wheel of a car has probably closed a lot of doors in my life, and at some point, I want to try and get more comfortable behind the wheel so I can do more with myself. Of course, in order for me to do this, I will need to find someone who is patient enough and willing to sit beside me while I attempt to overcome that fear. Whether it means going to take courses, or finding someone who will not grab the wheel while I drive, I've come to the conclusion that I need to do something, or else I would have to find a community with a decent public transportation system.

I'm certainly not going to sugarcoat things. I am a very inexperienced driver. I will not make the claim that I am the best driver in the world because let's face it...I would be lying through my teeth. At the very least though, I am not one to delude myself with visions of grandeur over my driving abilities. I own up to the fact that I suck.

Of course, not everyone in the world is as honest about their lack of skills as I am. There are some who feel that they are much better at driving (or anything for that matter) than they really are. Some people might have a learning disability that prevents them from understanding road signs, or may have vision impairment issues that may require prescription glasses or contact lenses. Some people may have passengers who are “backseat drivers”, and who do more harm than good. Some people might have had a traumatic experience with driving before, and have forgotten crucial driving skills.

And, then some people are just complete morons.

Around the world, there have been several television shows that have gathered all of these people into one parking lot where we viewers at home can watch them smash into cardboard courses, chip and tear the paint off the sides of the cars, and run over several cardboard cutouts of pedestrians. And, unfortunately, for most of these shows, they are done solely for entertainment purposes, where we're supposed to laugh, and make fun of people for being absolute morons. And, to me, that's not right because they could be very good people outside of the show (just terrible drivers). Even more frustrating is the fact that the bad drivers never seem to learn anything from their time on the show. They're just there to provide entertainment. I'm specifically pointing at the American version, which I found to be quite tacky and ignorant.

Fortunately, in my home country of Canada, our version is much superior (at least in my eyes it is). I mean, sure, you have the entertainment value of it. The reactions of some of the bad drivers are sometimes priceless, and there certainly are a lot of laughs to go around. But unlike other shows, this show teaches you critical skills, such as what to do if you do a skid on an icy corner, or learning how to drive both automatic and standard transmission vehicles, or even what the meaning of certain road signs are. And, there's no feeling more rewarding than seeing the happy expressions on people's faces whenever they grasp a concept and pass a challenge.

Of course, not everybody passes the challenges...

Ah well...such is life when you are nominated for Canada's Worst Driver, which is the subject of today's blog.

As of 2013, Canada's Worst Driver has aired for eight seasons. Debuting on October 2, 2005 and hosted by Andrew Younghusband since the show's inception on Canada's Discovery Channel, the show has been educating bad drivers and putting them through a strict rehabilitation program where they learn how to drive in a straight line, how to reverse, how to swerve and avoid, how to drive a multitude of vehicles from a SmartCar to a school bus, and how to drive around a course with a gigantic tank of water strapped to the roof!

I'm serious! Have a look!

Now, mind you, the odds of one careening down a major highway with enough water to fill a child-size pool on your roof are slim to nil, but there is a point to that and all the other challenges. The challenges are meant to instill confidence in the drivers, while teaching them basic driving tips, such as knowing where your wheels are, and looking where you want to go.

At the end of each episode, a panel of judges along with Andrew review the footage of all of the nominees (who are nominated by family members or friends), and make the decision as to who deserves to get their licenses back (the drivers are forced to hand them over to Andrew once they arrive at the driver's rehabilitation centre). Usually, at the end of the episode, one person will graduate from the program and drive back home. But sometimes, nobody is eliminated, and sometimes, circumstances prevent the person from finishing rehab (more on that later).

Regardless, at the final episode of each season, the remaining drivers are taken out on one final drive in a major city to test them on what they have learned. Cities that have been in the spotlight in past seasons have included Montreal, Toronto, Barrie, and Niagara Falls. Whoever does the best on the final road test will be the final graduate. Whoever does the worst overall, will be named Canada's Worst Driver.

Since eight seasons have already aired, we have, wait...we actually have nine people named Canada's Worst Driver (in one season there was a tie). Just for posterity purposes, I'll provide the list of people who have “won” the title of Canada's Worst Driver over the years, obscuring their last names, as I will be typing in their home location beside their names.

2005 – Chris F. - Mississauga, Ontario
2006 – Henrietta G. - Rockland, Ontario
2007 – Jason Z. - Vancouver, British Columbia
2008 – Ashley V. - Medicine Hat, Alberta
2009 – Angelina M. - Sudbury, Ontario
2010 – Lance M. - Ottawa, Ontario
2011 – Shirley S. - Port Caledonia, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
2012 – Kevin S. - McBride, British Columbia & Flora W. - Edmonton, Alberta

(NOTE: Considering that half of these drivers are from my home province, is it any wonder why I get the heebie-jeebies behind the wheel?)

In each case, all of the Worst Driver's had some sort of flaw. Lance was too emotional behind the wheel, Ashley had temper issues, Angelina was the most distracted driver the show ever had, and Kevin only had one eye!

And, certainly if you watched some of the drivers in action, you might get an idea as to why they were eventually given the title of Canada's Worst Driver in the first place. Take a look at Season 4's Ashley, and Season 6's Lance in action below...

However, there have also been some fantastic success stories over the eight year history of the show. Arun from Season 5 was on his way to failing everything in the early episodes, but by the end of the season, he had a perfect drive in the city challenge. In season 6, Brad went from causing several accidents which lead to his being banned from driving by his own wife to being a more confident motorist. And, in season 7, we met Aaron Cheshire, whose story touched a lot of people's hearts. Listen to the story below.

Despite the trauma that came from that near-fatal car accident, Aaron persevered, and became the final graduate of his season. His story was truly heartwarming, and you could tell that Aaron got a lot out of driving rehab.

Unfortunately, there are also some people who have appeared on the show who never really seemed to learn from their mistakes. The four people you'll meet below are some of the ones who were NOT named Canada's Worst Driver, but probably could have been had they stuck around. In two cases, they were named the runner-ups of their seasons, but the other three were either expelled or dropped out of rehab.

Be very cautious of these people. I hope that since their shows aired, that they have reformed their bad ways and are great drivers. In case they haven't, be on the lookout for these faces.

SLY (Season 7)

Okay, it's bad enough that Sly was a complete technology addict, getting distracted by his ringing cell phone and his GPS device to get him where he needed to go. But once he got onto the rehabilitation centre, he caused a lot of grief and a lot of fear to the crew of the show. Do you remember that clip I posted a couple days ago of the man who punctured his gas tank while doing a course? 

Yep. That's Sly. How Shirley ended up being named Canada's Worst over Sly is a mystery that I don't know if I'll figure out.

DALE (Season 6)

Oh, Dale, Dale, Dale...first things first, you need to do some serious brushing up on your road signs. For starters, I will let you know that on Canadian highways (and I am guessing the same holds true in America), a question mark means that an information/tourist area is ahead. Listen to her describe her thoughts on what the sign means.

Oh, yeah...she almost KILLED THE HOST!

SCOTT (Season 6)

With this one, I think actions are probably better than words.

NOTE: Season 2's Colin was also expelled from his season on similar grounds.

DONNA (Season 4)

According to the epilogue of Donna's final episode, she “thanked” the show for being responsible for getting her license permanently taken away. While I don't know for sure if this was the truth, Donna certainly had it coming given some of her confessions in front of the camera.

  • She gets a “high” running through stop signs.
  • She gets a “high” speeding through red lights.
  • She has admitted to striking pedestrians and cyclists.
  • She has even admitted to drinking and driving (but only when she goes to the Bingo hall).
  • And, as if that weren't bad enough, she even fell asleep behind the wheel and almost crashed her car due to her being under the influence.

No wonder she turned in performances like these ones below.

After seeing that, would YOU trust her to have her license back? I can't say I would feel comfortable about it.

So, in conclusion, I think Canada's Worst Driver is a great show. Yes, it's entertaining, but it also teaches you crucial skills, and builds confidence.

More importantly, it also teaches bad drivers that sometimes their actions have consequences.

1 comment:

  1. I have created a petition in favour of jail time for Emma Czornobaj, the woman who got two people killed because she stopped her car in the fast lane of a highway to help some ducks.

    Here is a link to that petition: