I may be North Fork’s Worst Driver but I am not Canada’s Worst Driver.

Reckonings column by Della Mallette, Nov. 25 Grand Forks Gazette.

Canada’s Worst Driver is a television series on Discovery Channel and is based on Britain’s Worst Driver, and is part of the Worst Driver television franchise. The series is produced by Proper Television, whose president, Guy O’Sullivan, was the director of the original Britain’s Worst Driver series, and thus Canada’s Worst Driver is considered to be the production company’s flagship show.

Unlike other Worst series around the world, the Canadian version emphasizes the learning process of the contestants and the science of driving. It’s often more serious than the other Worst shows around the world, which are mainly played for laughs. It is the longest running of any Worst series to date.

In each season, eight drivers and their nominators are taken to the Driver Rehabilitation Centre where they compete in challenges designed to improve their driving skills, in an effort to not be named Canada’s Worst Driver.

I love the show because, as the obvious advertorial just said, it emphasizes the learning of and the science of driving.

Last week the contestants faced the parallel parking challenge. Did you know that the trick to parallel parking is that once you’re swinging into the parking spot, turn and watch your left mirror. When you see the passenger headlight of the car you’re backing towards, that’s when you start straightening out. Who knew?

I certainly didn’t know that trick. But then the only time I’ve parallel parked successfully is on my driver’s test years ago. One of my teachers, Logan Morrison, loaned me his small compact and in that spot I zipped like I did it every day. Haven’t done it since.

An interesting tidbit I picked up researching Worst Driver: a 2009 Ruhr University Bochum study argued that a driver’s gender may affect parking ability. According to the research, female drivers took an average of 20 seconds longer to park than male drivers, yet were still less likely than men to park accurately.

I can’t believe I just said that in print. So men, when you’re following me home and start to get frustrated at my driving, remember the compliment, will you?

During the day, in good driving conditions, I’m going to stand up for myself and say I do pretty good. The speed limit up the North Fork is 80 km/hr and I usually drive 80-85 km/hr. There are many bicyclists and people walking and they deserve a wide berth; there’s also a whole lot of wildlife that don’t appreciate the rules of the road.

Yes, I do slow down for them. I also unconsciously slow down a wee bit to say high to Buckwheat and Blot.

Buckwheat and Blot (short for “Inkblot”) are two horses who live at about five kilometres up the North Fork on the west side. They’ve lived there a few years now and since they’ve moved in, it’s been a small pleasure to say hi and wave as I go by. They make me smile and that gives my day a sunny start.

(I do have to apologize to their owners, because Buckwheat and Blot are not their names. I have no idea what their names are! So if their owners would like to take me up on an offer to feature them in Pet of the Week, we can all meet them properly.)

My night driving, or driving in snow coming at me like a kaleidoscope, I admit is not so good. Worst Driver has an icy corner challenge, but that’s nothing compared to some of the conditions B.C. drivers face. I have to remember, though, that challenges on Worst Driver are about learning instincts, and that those instincts will take you through situations of varying degrees.

If you learn to take your foot off the brake and look where you want to go, even if it’s only on a small patch of ice on a small corner in the middle of nowhere, that knowledge should take you through much more severe winter conditions.

That’s what Canada’s Worst Driver says and I reckon it’s good advice. Actually mastering it is another matter.