Getting your driver's licence is an exciting time in your life. It allows you the freedom of taking to the open road, either to visit friends, explore far away locales or simply get you back and forth to work in a timely manner. But, with Ontario's graduating licensing program this means these privileges come with limits.
After you've completed enough practice with your G1 -- a minimum of one year since the date your licence was issued or eight months if you've completed a government-approved driver's education course -- you're eligible to apply for your G2. This requires you to take a road test. If you pass the test, you'll receive your G2 licence -- the second of three levels in the graduated licensing process.
Getting your Ontario G2 Licence
While you have your G1, you'll need to get as much practice as possible. During this time a fully licensed driver who has had their G for a minimum of four years must be in the car with you. Once your 12-month (or in the case of passing a government-approved course, eight-month) mandatory period is complete and you feel confident enough with everyday driving situations in all weather conditions, then it's time to book your road test with your nearest DriveTest centre.
On the 20-minute test, the examiner will look at how you handle the basic rules of the road, starting, stopping, turning and passing. They'll watch how you drive through intersections that are both controlled and uncontrolled, and monitor safe driving practices such as steering techniques and obeying speed limits. Last but not least, they'll ask you to parallel park as well as back up into a spot.
If you do not pass the test, the examiner will point out your mistakes and how you can improve. You can try again as soon as 10 days later, subject to schedule availability.
G2 Conditions and Restrictions
A G2 licence has fewer driving restrictions than a G1. You're allowed to drive anywhere -- including 400-series highways -- at any time of day or night. You must ensure that your passengers do not exceed the number of working seatbelts in your vehicle and that your blood alcohol level is zero. That means absolutely no alcohol before getting behind the wheel.
However, if you're 19 or younger, there's an extra rule to keep in mind. Only one passenger 18 and under is allowed in the first six months of having your G2 licence if you're driving between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. Following that six-month period, you can increase the number of passengers 18 and under to three. This restriction doesn't apply if there's also a fully licensed G driver with four years of experience behind the wheel in the car with you, or if the other passengers are members of your immediate family.
Consequences for Bad Driving Behaviour
If you fail to obey traffic laws while holding a G2 licence, you could be putting your driving record at a greater risk than if you're a fully-licensed G driver. You're still considered a new driver and receiving a traffic ticket with your G2 can not only bump up your auto insurance premiums but also earn you demerit points. If you accumulate nine or more demerit points, you could see your licence suspended for 60 days. This compares to 30 days for G-licensed drivers who have 15 or more demerit points.
Should you be convicted of a driving offence while holding a G2, your licence is automatically suspended for 30 days. On your second conviction, your licence is suspended for 90 days. If there's a third conviction, you will lose your G2 and have to start the entire graduated licensing process all over again.
Auto Insurance for G2 Drivers
If you're thinking about purchasing a car, you'll need to shop around for auto insurance. Even if you're driving someone else's vehicle, you're still required to have insurance and must be added to that person's policy. The policyholder has to notify their insurance company as soon as you get your G2 licence, even if you don't plan on driving very often.
For any other questions you have about getting your G2 licence, visit Ontario's government website.
The Next Step -- Getting your G Licence
Once you've completed at least one year of driving experience with your G2 licence -- including as much practice on 400-series highways as possible -- you can book your G road test. This test takes about 30 minutes and includes a highway component as well as more advanced driving skills. Prior to starting the test, the examiner will ask you how much time you spend driving on the highway per week, so it's important to become comfortable with these types of roads before attempting to get your G.
If you do not pass your G test, you have a full five years from the date your G1 was issued to complete the entire graduated licensing process. However, if you don't have your G licence by that date, you won't be allowed to book a test. Rather, you'll be required to start from the beginning again.
Don't live in Ontario?
For information on how to get your licence in another province or territory, visit:
- British Columbia's ICBC
- Service Alberta
- Saskatchewan's SGI
- Manitoba Public Insurance
- Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec
- Service Newfoundland & Labrador
- Service New Brunswick
- Service Nova Scotia
- PEI Driver Licensing
- Yukon Graduated Driver Licensing
- Northwest Territories Graduated Licensing
- Nunavut Department of Economic Development and Transportation
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
"Regardless of how you approach driving, you still have to get to where you need to be, " says Neil Shah, director of The Stress Management Society and author of The 10-Step Stress Solution. He recommends using your time behind the wheel to practice some breathing techniques (deep breathing is noted for its calming effect on us). "Sit comfortably, listen to some quiet, calming music and focus on your breathing. Take a deep breath into your belly for five counts; hold it in for five and then release. Repeat to reach a state of relaxation."
"Although driving can be a stressor itself at times, if approached the right way, the car can be a great place to relax," explains Shah. "It provides time to unwind and relax without you having to take time out of your busy schedule." If your daily drive takes you through some green space, enjoy it (studies have found that the more green space that surrounds a person, the less stressed they're likely to be).
The car can also be a great place to enjoy a book, advises Shah. "Not an actual book, but listening to an e-book or podcast can take your mind off your stressors and allow you to focus on something different and interesting. This can help re-energise the mind, bringing a positive vibe to what could have been a stressful journey."
Racing car driver, former Stig and author of How To Drive: The Ultimate Guide, from the Man Who Was the Stig, Ben Collins, loves the feeling behind the wheel as an escape from technology and distractions. "That doesn’t mean driving at a million miles per hour or screeching through corners on two wheels. It just means having the mental space to enjoy being focused on what you’re doing and switching off the worldly distractions that generally burn your eyes and ears throughout the day."
Driving is a great opportunity to clear your mind, whether you're going on an epic road trip or negotiating the daily car pool. "When stressed, in order to decide whether you need to fight or flight the stressor, the medulla oblongata, also known as the primitive brain, is used," explains Shah. "This part of the brain doesn’t play a part in problem solving, lateral thinking or creative thought processes; these processes are called higher brain functions." These higher brain functions shut down during times of stress; driving a route you know won't use those higher brain functions and can help clear your mind.
Music is known for its relaxing properties - whether people are listening to music or making it - and has been linked to better moods while driving. Just don't listen to Marconi Union's Weightless, which can apparently slow your heart rate, reduce blood pressure and decrease cortisol levels, (and has been found by scientists to be the most relaxing tune), at the wheel.
From our morning commutes to the time we get home in the evening, most of us are always surrounded by people and craving a bit of solitude, which is essential for mindfulness, relaxation and introspection. "To really enjoy driving there’s a part of you that just wants to be left alone to enjoy the majesty of the rolling carpet. If you turn the phone off so that your boss can’t ruin a fine view and pick a cool song, then driving transports you to another universe," says Collins.
While driving is a great opportunity for much-needed solitude, it can also be a chance to bond with friends or your partner on your own, which can have it's own de-stressing benefits. Not only can chatting to your friends help you relieve anxiety by having a good rant (and getting another perspective on issues you've been rehashing in your own head over and over), grabbing a friend and going on a drive - whether it's to a new city or your favourite local park - is an opportunity to do things you love, with someone you love.
Sometimes, the best part about driving is feeling the power and connection between you and the vehicle you're controlling. Whether you're in a convertible letting the wind tear through your hair or appreciate the ease of an automatic car, there's nothing to take your mind off life's stresses and help you enjoy the moment like a jaunt in the car. Ben Collins recalls filming Skyfall and falling in love with the feel of the Aston Martin DB5 he drove. "The DB5’s leather sofa-cum-driving seat ironed out bumps in the road but steering the beast required both hands and a healthy concern for your trajectory. Changing course required military-grade forward planning to compensate for the body roll and lazy cornering, which challenged and enchanted with equal measure.The radio was broken, nevertheless a soundtrack filled my head as I swirled across the stunning Scottish countryside: 'We have all the time in the world.'"
Follow Anne Marie Thomas on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ihcom