Small airplane parked in what appears to be a farmer's field.

A Birthday Tribute

=== by Bob Sutherland ===


Use extreme caution when venturing outside!

Two years ago Kevin and Julie reached the prestigious age of being old enough to apply for their airborne Student Pilot’s License from the Government of Canada. I do not think any of us bothered to sit down and tell them about this great opportunity. Our reasoning was simple. None of us were enthusiastic about the idea of having them up there in the sky engaging in a dogfight.

Would you feel relaxed sitting in a lawn chair as they buzzed around your head in some contraption of a flying machine?

A year from now they will be old enough to skip the Student Pilot’s Licence and instead apply for a wallet full of Pilot Licences to fly private airplanes, helicopters, gliders and hot air balloons. After that they can begin reading the regulations of how to pursue a series of commercial Pilot Licenses.

(Yes the Government of Canada does not issue just one but many different airborne pilot licenses to keep the bureaucracy employed and happy.)

Of more immediate pressing concern to most of us is that Julie and Kevin are now old enough to apply to the Government of Quebec for a Driver’s Licence. I am talking about that little photo identification card that gives them legal permission to drive a vehicle on the street in front of your house.

Can you imagine either Kevin or Julie attempting to drive a big motorized vehicle in a straight line down a street while trying to stay between the curbs or ditches?

Last week they turned sixteen. By now the birthday parties are over. Any moment now I presume Julie and Kevin will start searching for the Quebec government website that has the instructions of how to apply for a Driver’s Licence.

There are thirteen different Driver’s Licenses they can apply for in Quebec. The licences cover everything from mopeds and motorcycles right up to transport trucks, buses and snow plows.

I expect Julie might want to try for a school bus driver’s license on her first attempt while Kevin might be more interested in driving a snow plow or a transport truck.

Do not laugh! The thirteen different driver’s licenses in Quebec are similar to Ontario in that they are arranged in an imperfect pyramid style hierarchy. Once you obtain one of the top licenses in the hierarchy for a vehicle such as a BIG school bus or HEAVY DUTY truck then you automatically qualify for almost all of the other licences as well. Why settle for a driver's license for a car when you can go after a big vehicle licence that would allowed you to drive just about any vehicle on the highway?

Motorcycles are the most notable exception in both provinces. Learning how to drive a motorcycle does not allow you to drive any other vehicle and learning how to drive any other vehicle does not allow you to drive a motorcycle.

So in your dreams tonight I suggest you try not to imagine yourself as a pedestrian crossing the street as Kevin or Julie approach you sitting behind the wheel of a big recreational camper vehicle.

Why a big recreational camper vehicle? Because at this time of the year it might be easy to rent one. A recreational camping vehicle would make a great trainer vehicle for learning some basic driving skills before moving on to learn how to drive a transport truck or a school bus.

Think of the great view Julie or Kevin would have of the traffic jam they just created if they were sitting up high in a big, long, truck size, recreational camping vehicle when they make some driving mistakes.

Tomorrow or someday soon do not be surprised if Kevin or Julie ask you to donate lots of money from your wallet or purse. The obligatory government fees to take a driver education course and to apply for a driver’s license have become very expensive. Julie and Kevin will need to collect money handouts from all of their Facebook friends to be able to afford the cost.

A few days after that WATCH OUT for those maniac new drivers we have just allowed on our streets and highways.

I have not researched this point but I suspect the regulations state that the in-car instructor needs to post a warning sign on top of the vehicle indicating when beginner drivers are actually attending a formal driver school lesson. But the rest of the time the inexperienced drivers are not required to forewarn you that they are coming down the road, or maybe the sidewalk, or possibly across the lawn, towards you.

Look in all directions! Watch out for the beginner drivers! Kevin and Julie will not be the only ones who have just turned sixteen and are seeking a driver's licence.

Happy Birthday Julie and Kevin.

Wish you the best of luck getting your new driver’s licences.

Drive safe, use your mirrors and stay sober.


A pickup truck driving across a frozen lake.