For the past few days I’ve been reading through the Official Driver’s Handbook and doing online practice tests for the Ontario Driver’s written road knowledge test. I’m not too worried about the road sign portion of the test. When faced with a ‘yield’ sign, you have to… well… yield. I’m more worried about any questions that have to do with headlights. The Handbook says that people taking a G1 test should know, for example, that you have to switch from high beam headlights to low beams within 150 meters of an oncoming vehicle. Low beams, meanwhile, must be used within 60 meters behind another vehicle. Unless you’re passing. Or if it’s the second Tuesday of March, but Earth’s elliptical orbit has yet to reach it’s outermost point from the Sun. And the rule doesn’t apply to you if your last name, when said backwards, rhymes with, “ker-zirple.”
If I fail, I have to face the humiliation of having failed a test that I’ve been ridiculing for the past three days. I’ll also get some seriously dirty looks from my dad, who’ll be driving me to the licensing bureau, and lending me the $125 test fee.
Then there’s the ‘signaling and turning’ section of the test. I assumed that being familiar with the general rule known as, “If the light to the left side of the car flashes, the car is about to turn left, and if the light to the right side of the car flashes, the car is about to turn right,” would be enough to pass the test. But apparently one also needs to be aware of the Hand Puppet Protocol designed to signal other drivers that your lights aren’t working.
I’m not sure what worries me more: the fact that I now also have to memorize the hand signals for turning, or the fact that I now have to worry about being the one in 325 people who experience a burnt-out turning signal. Yes, I completely made that statistic up (almost 28.6 per cent of all statistics are made up on the spot).
If someone wants to turn left, they stick their left arm out. That’s easy enough to remember. But if someone wants to turn right? That’s where everything goes wrong: a right turn is signaled by sticking your left arm straight up, at a 90 degree angle to the road. And if someone cuts you off? That’s when the puppets have a field day.
A few of the questions are so specific, I suspect they must have been created by a jeopardy contestant. For instance: When approaching a railway crossing, you should:
A) stop 5.0 meters from the rail.
B) stop 4.9 meters from the rail.
C) stop 4.8 meters from the rail.
D) speed up as quickly as possible and cringe as you cross the tracks.
Then there are the trick questions, such as: “Which of the following are you not allowed to have in the back of a trailer that is in motion?”
C) a Cheez Whiz sandwich
According the Ministry of Transport of Ontario, I wouldn’t be breaking the law if I had a barrel full of TNT and three crates of machine guns bouncing around the back of my trailer. Oh, and apparently the Cheese Whiz sandwich is okay, too.
I swear I didn’t make this one up: “When approaching a stop sign, which of the following actions is appropriate?”
B) Speeding up, as long as you honk your horn and wave your fist at anybody who dares lay claim to the ‘right of way.’
C) Periwinkle is a pretty shade of blue.
The test should really ask only one crucial question: “Do you watch Corner Gas?”
A) Yes, I watch it regularly and think it represents everything that’s quintessentially Canadian.
B) Only if someone knocks me unconscious, ties me up, duct tapes my eyelids open, and pokes me with a stick every time I get a glazed look on my face.
C) It took me ten minutes to figure out how to spell, ‘quintessentially.’
Anyone who chooses “A” is dragged into a room by two armed guards, and given a good slapping for five minutes. Then dropped out the back of a plane over Saskatchewan.