The top 10 driving schools in Toronto
The top driving schools in Toronto are struggling for students in an age when the first thing a boy wants for his sixteenth birthday is less likely to be the keys to the family car. What was once a rite of passage completed before prom is now postponed until after college or even to the day when buses and subways are no longer the best way to get a week's shopping for a family.
The size and professionalism of driving schools vary, from slick operations with logos and matching shirts on their instructors and branches all over the city or even the province, to fly-by-night rackets run out of a rented desk in a strip mall with a single wheezy Accord.
There are a lot of driving schools in Toronto, but this list was narrowed down by rejecting the ones not registered with the Ministry of Transportation. Most offer the provincially-approved Beginner Driver Education program, and all offer at the very least the minimum of twenty hours of classroom work and ten hours each of homework and in-car instruction.
You can, of course, pay the minimum in registration and test fees and get your brother-in-law to teach you the rules of the road in his lowered Golf with the catback exhaust. What you will do is pay more insurance when you get your license, and might never get anyone to tell you how to control a skid or drive like an adult, so for your sake and everyone else who shares a road with you, it's worth looking into any of these driving schools.
Young Drivers of Canada
This national driving school has six locations in Toronto as well as other branches in Pickering, Richmond Hill, Newmarket and Mississauga, so they're no fly-by-night outfit. Packages can get expensive, ranging from $265.48 for two 90-minute in-car sessions to nearly $1500 for a deluxe package that includes driving on gravel. They've even trademarked their Collisionfree!(TM) program, and insist that, despite their name, they're as suitable to an anxious middle-aged non-driver as they are for cocky 16-year-olds who dream of smoky burnouts.
AMB Driving School
With locations in Toronto and all over the 905, AMB is a classic driving school geared for young drivers who want to get on the road ASAP. They offer a 4-day course tailored for students with free days to get the twenty hours of classroom study out of the way fast, in addition to special courses for stick shift driving and for mature and senior drivers who need to brush up on their road skills.
Brisa Driving School
Located at Jane in Weston, this driving school teaches lessons in Spanish and English and boasts a quaint website that screams 1997 internet. The full driving course involves 25 hours of in-class learning as opposed to the usual 20, and fourteen 45-minute in-car sessions with an instructor, for around $450.
Golan Driving School
This interestingly-named driving school, based in Downsview, specializes in evening classroom sessions, so it's perfect for young adults past the "Dad, can I borrow the car?" stage. The full course is a very affordable $499 with MTO certificate. They'll rent you a vehicle for your road test with a prep lesson for $99, and offer individual hour long lessons for $45.
All Nations Driving School
With five locations in Etobicoke, Vaughan, Mississauga and Woodbridge, this school has the far west side of the city well covered. A range of packages from $99 for two lessons and a road test to the deluxe $590 option which includes fifteen hours of in-car instruction and use of a car for your road test.
Peter's Driving Academy
This driving school, with locations in Whitby, Pickering and Scarborough, is explicitly targeted at teen drivers - and their nervous parents. Their website helpfully lays out (with illustrations!) everything that will be covered in eight days of classroom instruction, and stresses evasive and braking manoeuvres for just $325, with extra fees for the MTO certificate and use of an instructor's car on test day.
Winston's Driving Academy
Based out on the Danforth by Woodbine, they advertise that they "Specialize in Nervous and Stressful Drivers," which means they're happy to take on everybody's least favorite new drivers - the delayed, middle-aged types who've taken transit for too long, and drivers road-shy after accidents. Two packages are offered, the more expensive of which ($410) includes loan of a vehicle for the road test.
The Canadian Automotive Association has 38 approved driving schools across Ontario, including one in Mississauga and All City Driving School on Jane Street in Mount Dennis. CAA provides their curriculum in addition to their guarantee of compliance with MTO regulations that will allow early driving tests.
Canadian Tire Driving School
The Toronto location of the hardware chain's driving academy is in Leslieville, which might be all some east end driving hopefuls need to know. More good news is that it offers a range of programs, from a deluxe beginning driver's course for $948 to packages for seniors and new Canadians, individual driving lessons and loan of a car for your road test.
Learn Safe Driving Academy
Considering how many teen drivers have spent days, if not weeks, driving in video games before they ever get behind the wheel of a real car, this east end driving school's advertised use of a driving simulator as part of their classes is rather slick. They offer a full course and three mini programs for the budget conscious, drivers re-testing, or that small minority whose parents were able to teach them road basics without tears or shouting.
This Downsview driving school boasts of a high first-time pass rate for their students, which is a brave boast to make when, depending on location, failure rates in Ontario range from a third to a half. Three tiers of packages range from $375 for the MTO minimum of classroom and in-car time to $700 for twenty hours of in-car instruction and the road test.
Shaun de Jager Driver Development
This one man driving school is based around de Jager, a performance driving instructor whose school teaches everything from tactical and track driving to driving on snow and country roads, and rehabilitation for drivers recovering from accidents and surgery.
What did I miss? Add your favourite driving school to the comments below.