In Alberta, the Graduated Driver Licensing program was introduced in 2003. Under the program, new drivers are not allowed to drive between 12 midnight and 5 a.m. Their licence can be suspended with an accumulation of eight or more demerit points, and there is no tolerance for the use of alcohol or drugs while driving.
Also, drivers are requested to take a second, more advanced road test in order to receive a full licence after successfully making it through two years of probation.
That will change next spring as Alberta announces it would no longer need the advanced road test for Class 5 (passenger vehicles) and Class 6 (motorcycle) driver’s licences, thereby saving those drivers $150.
In an interview, Alberta Transportation Minister Prasad Panda said: “The objective of the changes are meant to reduce red tape and also cut costs for Albertans and businesses without cutting the safety aspects of the program.”
Since the program started, drivers who made it past their two-year probation and didn’t partake in a second test have been permitted to continue driving with their graduated licences, and a lot do.
According to Panda, an estimated 700,000 Albertans are driving with graduated licences. In the past five years, 65 per cent of those with graduated licences have not taken the second advanced road test.
He added: “Some of them are not that young anymore. They are in their 40s, but they are simply not taking the test because they’re already driving with the (Graduated Driver Licence).
“Many of them probably thought spending that extra $150 for the advanced test is not giving them any extra benefit or comfort other than getting a full licence.”
Also, an additional road test will no longer be compulsory to obtain a Class 4 driver’s licence, which is needed to transport passengers in taxis, limousines, ride-share vehicles, small buses and ambulances.
In a 2019 government survey on red-tape reduction, many Albertans suggested eliminating the road test.
Panda revealed further that about 500,000 graduated licence holders are likely eligible to upgrade to full Class 5 licences.
He said: “It is common sense. It reduces costs for drivers and also, in a way, for businesses, without compromising safety in any way.
“It’s not reducing safety. They have to be on probation for two years, so those two years should sort out if there are any issues with those drivers, whether it’s traffic violations or drug and alcohol.”
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