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Driving tips

7 driving myths you probably believed

Right up till the early 90s, drivers could pass their road test by driving around at the John Rhodes Centre in Brampton - without ever venturing out into real traffic on real roads.

Then folks at the transportation ministry began to think drivers ought to be put to a MUCH tougher test. In 1994, they started the graduated-licensing system that requires you to get a G1 and G2 before you can get a full-fledged G.

Yup, things have changed a lot over the years but that doesn't stop the same old rumours circulating around driving. I'm here to put a stop to them.

1. Driving test examiners have a fail quota

No. This is absolutely, 100% not true. I PROMISE.

It might make people feel better to tell themselves this after failing a driving test, but it's a complete myth I'm afraid.

If you are ready to be set loose on the world as a qualified driver, you will pass. It's that simple.

2. Men are better drivers than women

Hmmm. Considering 80% of all fatal and serious car crashes are caused by male drivers, I wonder how people continue to foster this myth. Women make fewer traffic violations and are also 27% less likely than men to cause car accidents, according to a U.S. study.

Need I say more?

Okay, everyone is different and both men and women have equal opportunity to suck at any activity. But I'm just going to leave this here:

A U.K. study found that women are better at parking than men, scoring 13.4 out of 20 for maneuvers compared to a 12.3 average by men. Case closed.

3. Backseat passengers don’t need a seatbelt

If you’re in a road accident, there’s a 20% higher chance of death for front seat passengers if people in the back seat don’t wear a seatbelt. So please ask everyone in your car to wear a seatbelt. For their safety and yours.

Remember: All Ontario drivers and passengers must wear a seatbelt that is properly adjusted and securely fastened. It’s the law.

4. Red cars cost more to insure

The insurance industry is colour-blind,” an insurance company’s VP once told the Globe and Mail.

“It doesn't matter if your car is blue, red, striped or chequered, your insurance rate for that make, model, and age of the vehicle will be the same.”

It's easy to connect speed-hungry show-offs with red cars, but most people just pick the colour that makes the car they want look good. Fact is, your car’s colour won't affect how much you'll pay for insurance because the type of car is what makes the colour a significant factor - and a young driver is very unlikely to be insuring a red Ferrari.

5. Your horn is for telling people they did something wrong

Get real. If someone is driving carelessly and makes a mistake that upsets you, honking at them isn’t really going to make much difference to their attitude.

Your horn isn’t for scolding other people; it’s for warning them. Use it ONLY if you need to let someone know you’re in their blind spot, to alert them to a hazard ahead - for instance an animal on the road.

Honking is is not an outlet for your road rage. A light tap on the horn is usually enough.

6. Crossing your hands to steer is a fault in your driving test

Nu-uh. The 10 to 2 position is the recommended way to use your steering wheel because it gives you good control, but you're not going to fail if you don't do it.

The thing is, the examiner has the discretion to subtract points if they think you made an unsafe move - like a sharp right turn at the wrong speed because your hand slipped a little. Then you’re on your way to a lower score and could possibly fail the test.

The bottom-line is you need to be safe and in control of the car. So remember to keep both hands on the steering wheel.

7. All-season tires are okay in the winter

Hello - do you live in Ontario? Personally, I would never leave my driveway in winter without changing my tires. (All four of them, by the way - you’re only going to make it worse if you change just the front or back set.)

It’s no big secret that winters here are harsh and getting worse. Do yourself a favour and use the right tires for the weather - especially when the temperature drops below 7C.

If you’re using all-season tires in the winter, your stopping distance can increase by up to 40% on snow, ice or cold pavement. This means you’re in trouble if you have to brake suddenly.

Oh and guess what? In Ontario’s budget for 2015 they included a clause saying that insurers have to give you a discount if you use winter tires - so if you don’t care about saving your life, at least think about saving some bucks.


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Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. She started learning to drive last year, at the age of 24.