Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

ROLLING TOWARD RETIREMENT – Barbara Evans has spent the last several weeks looking for a buyer for Main Street Driving School, without success.

Driving school reaches the end of the road

After 25 years in the driving school business, Barbara Evans is calling it quits, even if it means closing Main Street Driving School for good.

By Gabrielle Plonka on September 11, 2019

After 25 years in the driving school business, Barbara Evans is calling it quits, even if it means closing Main Street Driving School for good.

“It is what it is, and I can only do what I can,” Evans told the Star Monday. “I’m 65 now, and it’s time for me to start living.”

Main Street Driving School is the only Canada Safety Council certified school in the Yukon offering instruction to new drivers.

Evans has spent the last several weeks looking to find a buyer for the school, but has received no response.

“I had planned on being done already. But I’ve had so many parents calling; people want to get their training in before the closure,” she said.

Because of the high demand for last-minute lessons, Evans agreed to stay open for one more season. Now, she plans to close at the end of her fiscal year, Dec. 31.

Evans received her instructor certification in British Columbia.

Driving instructor training is not currently offered in the Yukon, and the instructors employed by Main Street were similarly trained outside of the territory.

Evans believes the Yukon is “on the brink” of introducing more standards and resources for driver training, but there are still a number of independent driving instructors who teach without certification.

“There’s a lot of people out there doing it for cheap, no training, no background,” Evans said.

Because Main Street Driving School is certified by the Canada Safety Council, Evans is able to offer benefits to students that independent instructors cannot.

For example, students who complete the program through the Insurance Bureau of Canada can receive a discount on insurance.

High school students receive two extracurricular credits toward their degree upon completion of the driving program.

Main Street Driving School also offers a remedial defensive driving course. That can be ordered by the court in association with charges of dangerous driving or drinking under the influence. Students who take the course can also earn three points off their driver’s abstract.

“If nobody steps up to take on that, that is going to be a bit of a challenge for the (Yukon) government,” Evans said.

She expects the government will have to step in to fill some of the gaps. She told the Star she promised the territorial motor vehicles branch three months’ notice before closing the doors of her school.

“Ethically, I feel really bad,” Evans said. “There are some benefits to the school that I think are going to be lost.”

Evans explained her fleet of driving cars includes important features for teaching, including extra mirrors, gas pedals and brakes. One of her three vehicles is a dual-controlled car.

These features, she said, help to make road training safe and build the confidence of her students.

The motor vehicles branch currently requires new drivers who fail their road test three times to take lessons with an official driving school before retesting.

This policy will likely have to change when Main Street Driving School closes, Evans explained. She is not under contract with the government to provide driving school services.

Main Street Driving School runs a regimented program, including 25 hours of theory and 10 hours of driving.

Evans said this is the standard number of hours set by the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Upon the closure, Evans expects Yukoners will rely on independent instructors for driving classes. Some of these instructors, including her ex-staff members, have driver instructor training.

However, Evans is not aware of any instructors who are certified by the Canada Safety Council.

Brittany Cross at the Department of Highways and Public Works said this morning officials are in the preliminary stages of replacing Evans’ remedial driving course.

Comments (3)

Up 14 Down 4

Max Mack on Sep 13, 2019 at 10:22 am

From the story: 'Evans believes the Yukon is “on the brink” of introducing more standards . . .'
Oh no. More regulations. Just what we need. The government stepping in to "help" us once again.

Up 17 Down 3

Cher on Sep 13, 2019 at 8:26 am

Oh no! Top notch lessons and instructors. As a late bloomer in the driving world, from a small community and felt hopeless almost. They transformed me to a confident and assertive, not aggressive driver. Mahsi cho! So sorry to see you go, Barbara and team.

Up 8 Down 12

Olaf on Sep 11, 2019 at 5:07 pm

Sounds like a win win for a young entrepreneur -

There is usually only three reasons a business fails to sell
1. Market potential
2. Price
3. Reputation.

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