Canada's Worst Driver is a reality television series first aired on Discovery Channel Canada, based on the UK Channel 4 Television Corporation's Britain's Worst Driver, and is considered a sister show to Canada's Worst Handyman, itself based upon Britain's Worst DIYer. As of February 2008, three seasons of Canada's Worst Driver have been completed, and nominations are being accepted for a fourth.
Canada's Worst Driver is produced by Proper Television, and is hosted by Andrew Younghusband.
The premise is to take the eight worst drivers (nominated by friends, family, or co-workers) off Canadian streets and put them through an eight-week driving school from the Driver Rehabilitation Centre
, a decommissioned air force base/airport near Picton, Ontario
in Worst Driver
, CFB Borden
in Worst Driver 2
, and Barrie, Ontario
in Worst Driver 3
. Each of the drivers bring with them the person who nominated them for the show.
The first week of the series is an evaluation of the drivers, and for their first challenge, they must drive a car from a starting point to the Rehabilitation Centre an hour away, with a personal belonging being confiscated upon arrival at the centre (their car keys in the first two seasons, their drivers licenses in the third), returned only when they graduate.
From the second week on, the contestants, aided by their nominators, undertake several challenges specifically designed to test some of their aspects leading to their nomination, and the contestant who shows the most improvement in each episode, as determined by an expert panel of judges, has their keys returned, allowing them to go home; as it is an evaluation episode, no one graduates in the opening episode. The judges may reserve the right to not let anyone graduate in a given episode, which has happened on two separate occasions. Furthermore, as seen in the second season, the panel can choose to expel a driver that shows no intention of improving his or her skills.
On the last week, the remaining contestants tackle a final set of challenges that take place outside of the centre, and one contestant is named Canada's Worst Driver based on their performance in this challenge. The first season was set up so that at least two contestants would be left for the final exam, but three were left due to one week where no one graduated; subsequent seasons are one week shorter, meaning at least three drivers will be left for the final exam.
Worst Driver was filmed in winter and focused on winter driving conditions, while Worst Driver 2 focused more on summer driving hazards. A bonus episode of Worst Driver, titled Canada's Worst Drivers vs. The World, also compared the contestants from the first season to drivers from its counterparts in different countries (Australia, Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Switzerland), and concluded that while other countries may have more dangerous drivers in certain aspects, the contestants in Canada were worse in a wider range of aspects.
It was the job of the experts to evaluate the drivers, help give instruction and counselling, and ultimately judge how well the drivers did or did not improve. The experts consisted of the following individuals:
- Kelly Williams was a Canadian CASCAR driver and the only female to win a race in that series. She has also been the spokesperson for "Be Car Care Aware", an auto safety organization.
- Jim Kenzie is an automotive journalist and president of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. He also reviews vehicles for the Toronto Star newspaper. Since 1988, he also has an editorial-like segment on TSN's "Motoring" program. Now in its 20th season. He wrote the textbook used for advanced driver training used by the Toronto Police Service and other advanced training classes, and is widely recognized as a vehicle expert.
- Scott Marshall was the Director of Training for Young Drivers of Canada. His job was to train the instructors who train drivers.
- Dr. Uzma Rehman was a behavioural psychologist and a member of the faculty at Queen's University.
Each of the eight drivers had his or her own reason for being there - not all were generically incompetent drivers. Here are the contestants from the first season:
- Madalena Phillips, 21 and licensed for 5 years, had been in well over 30 accidents as well as innumerable incidents she called "bumps" when there were no witnesses. Her irresponsible driving was largely due to a complete lack of concern about anything except shopping, partying, and fashion. She was by and large an incompetent driver by choice, and considered it part of her lifestyle. Madalena was nominated by her friend Jennifer.
- Bob Coad, 36 and licensed for 20 years, was an otherwise excellent driver, except for a tendency towards road rage and a little freeway game he called bumper tag. This involved passing cars that he was annoyed at and suddenly slamming on his brakes in front of them, forcing them to panic brake to avoid a collision. Bob was nominated by his friend Rob.
- Chris Ferguson, 31 and licensed for 13 years, was totally inexperienced behind the wheel, having driven only five times since getting his licence 13 years ago. He was insecure, and very slow while driving, creating a hazard on the road. Chris was nominated by his wife Michelle.
- David Chau, 24 and licensed for 5 years, attributed his driving problems to being "unlucky" and refused to take responsibility for his incompetence on the road. His driving errors during the program often completely destroyed the cars used for the show. He would listen to, and then blame, his passengers for bad driving advice. David was nominated by his friend George.
- Faith Ann Stone, 30 and licensed for 14 years, had been in 37 reported accidents. She was reckless and drove far too fast, in spite of having been laid-up for 6 months by a collision 2 years previously. She was independently nominated by 4 different people to be on the show. Her issues largely arose from lack of proper driving instruction and her cavalier attitude towards driving. Faith Ann's friend Joanne represented herself and the three other people who nominated Faith-Ann.
- Heather Reynolds, 59 and licensed 30 years, had written off 10 cars in 20 years. During the series it was discovered that most of her troubles were caused by not having a proper prescription for her glasses. Like Chris, she was not reckless, but dangerously slow due to lack of confidence in her driving. Heather was nominated by her husband, Ernie.
- Manuel Tejeda, 36 and licensed for 6 years, had difficulties with overthinking everything he did while driving until it was too late. He also had a problem with his temper causing him to lose control when he failed during driving lessons. Manuel was nominated by his co-worker Alex.
- Tatiana Rheaume, 42 and 22 years licensed, was involved in a serious car accident that turned a competent driver into a paranoid wreck behind the wheel. She drove hazardously slow on freeways and refused to make left turns, which were involved in her car accident, often dangerously bunching up traffic and driving in the wrong lane. Tatiana was nominated by her mother-in-law Beth.
The result of the first season of Canada's Worst Driver
is as follows:
Canada's Worst Driver
- Episode 1: In the season premier, the canidates are introduced. As the challenges in this episode are preliminary evaluations, no one graduates at the end of this episode.
- Episode 2: After performing admirably well in a parallel parking challenge, Bob shows that he can be patient, and graduates.
- Episode 3: Tatiana's confidence from driving at increased speeds in the "Eye of the Needle" challenge makes her the second graduate.
- Episode 4: Faith Ann's confidence in an uphill driving challenge convinced the judges that she should be the third graduate.
- Episode 5: In a surprising twist, the judges decide that no one graduates due to overall poor performance by all candidates.
- Episode 6: David's leadership ability in an ice-themed challenge makes him the fourth graduate of the Driver Rehabilitation Centre.
- Episode 7: Aided by a flawless effort in a challenge that was specifically tightened so as to try and make him lose his temper, Manuel becomes the next driver to graduate.
- Episode 8: The finale, taking place within Montreal's downtown, sees Heather graduate due to the less-than-stellar performance of Madalena or Chris. Chris is named Canada's Worst Driver as Madalena's performance in the final challenge was seen to be due to her partying out on the town the night before. A follow up episode revealed that Madalena's father purchased her a new BMW for not being named Canada's worst driver.