OTTAWA – Ministry of Transportation offices across Canada are once again finding themselves overrun with what has become a familiar sight each winter, as hundreds of thousands of Canadians must restart their licensing processes from the very beginning after the mere sight of snow has caused them to completely forget how to drive a car.
“I was driving into work the other day, and there was that kind of snow that still doesn’t look like it’s ready to stay on the ground,” said Carol Hartigan of Welland, Ontario, in line to retake her G1 written test. “But then the snow actually did kind of stay on the ground. And then… it was gone. How to drive was gone.”
“And I don’t just mean how to deal with a skid, or even which pedals are which or what road signs mean,” explained Hartigan, a veteran driver of over 20 years. “I mean on a fundamental ‘what am I in, what is this’ level. Like, I got out of my car and left it on the highway. I was straight out of ideas for that thing.”
The phenomenon remains consistent throughout Canada on an annual basis, according to McGill University neurochemist Dr. Madeleine Geitz.
“Regardless of the average snowfall of a particular region, the first snow of the year invariably causes its residents to forget long-held and crucial driving knowledge, such as the operation, laws, general purpose, and location of the front of their automobiles,” said Dr. Geitz.
“Unfortunately we’ve found no way to prevent it; the best you can do is prepare for the long, costly process of re-learning how to drive. And of course, put snow tires on your car well in advance of winter, while you still remember what they are and where they go.”
Canada’s licensing facilities, overworked at the best of times, are struggling to keep up with the annual spike in demand.
“It’s a common enough experience that we can at least plan for it,” said ministry worker Benjamin Vierra, “but every year we still get slammed. I’m working a double-shift trying to get all these learner’s permits re-issued. And then before I can go home I have to get my car out of that dumpster. That’s where your car goes when you’re outside of it, right?”
Canada’s Minister of Transportation Marc Garneau could not be reached for comment, as the former astronaut was leaning out of his car window in a 4-inch snowfall, trying to row it like a boat.