12/14/2011 05:00 EST | Updated 02/13/2012 05:12 EST

Cape Breton Woman Named Canada's Worst Driver


A Cape Breton woman says after 45 years of driving she's finally learned to use her side mirrors.

Shirley Sampson from Donkin, N.S., was crowned the winner on the reality TV show Canada's Worst Driver. It airs on the Discovery Channel.

"I cannot city drive, so I did deserve the title," she told CBC News on Wednesday.

The 60-year-old retired elementary school teacher was one of eight finalists chosen from more than 900 bad drivers across the country. Sampson said at first, she was upset to know she was the worst driver.

But she said she has improved.

"Before going up to — I call it rehab now — before I went there I never in my life used mirrors, I couldn't back up, I couldn't parallel park," Sampson said.

"I live out in the country. I didn't have much driving skills at all, only to go to work and back."

Sampson was nominated for the show by her youngest daughter, Janis, who lives in Halifax. Sampson wanted to drive to visit her daughter in the city but couldn't get over the frightening task of modern high-speed driving.

She said compared to the small towns of Cape Breton, the relatively heavy traffic in Halifax made her nervous.

"I don't have the skills like merging, rotaries, all that stuff. It's just foreign to me," said Sampson.

"Now it's a riot. I go out and adjust my mirrors, I use them all the time, I can back up perfect, I can park."

Sampson said she was a teenager when her father taught her to drive, at a time when cars only had one side mirror and there were few driving standards.

"Like dad always said, 'Never swerve for an animal.' So I never swerved for an animal," she said.

Sampson has hit three dogs in her life, though she has never been in an accident involving another car.

"I know that being named Canada's worst driver — as bad as it is — will save my life some day and God knows who else's," she said.

Although Sampson believes her driving skills have improved, her husband, Phillip, still refuses to let her drive when he's in the car.

"She was lucky she never got in any bad accidents," he said.

Sampson is now taking driving lessons.

"The difference in driving before and after the program is that I have the confidence," she said.

"I kind of check out everything before I get in the car now and I just feel like I am one with the car and I feel much more comfortable with my car."