“Canada’s Worst Driver” offers worthy lessons
Aaron Chesire’s life changed when he was T-boned by a distracted motorist.
And it took a television show, Canada’s Worst Driver, to help him get back on track.
Doctors weren’t sure Chesire would live in the weeks following the trauma. He was in a coma for two months, and he has 15 steel plates in his face.
In the hospital for more than six months, the Calgarian is lucky to be alive. He’s not without his scars, however. He suffered long-term brain damage, and uses a cane to help him walk.
Before the 2005 accident, Chesire worked for Budget Rent-a-Car, and was a lot attendant at Stampede Toyota. He was a good driver, certainly one who was competent behind the wheel.
But one of the hardest things for Chesire to do post-accident was return to driving.
“My level of competence was not back, and I was a bit of a gong show on the road,” Chesire says.
“I was nervous behind the wheel, and I had trouble making quick decisions. I mean, I was just going through life like everybody else does, and then, wow, it could all be over so quickly.”
To help him regain some confidence, Chesire’s dad nominated him to be on the television show Canada’s Worst Driver. Chesire became one of eight participants in Season 7 of the reality TV show that airs on Discovery Channel.
“Aaron was a poster child for Canada’s Worst Driver,” says the show’s executive producer, Guy O’Sullivan of Proper Television. “He got hit by a bad driver, and very nearly killed. He’s proof of what the consequences of bad driving really are.”
“I tell people I was able to bring reality to reality TV,” he says.
According to a Proper Television news release, Canada’s Worst Driver aims to improve road safety by rehabilitating the nation’s worst drivers, one bad driver at a time.
Through a series of challenges and intense driver training, motorists relearn the rules of the road while improving their core driving skills.
Each episode, one person graduates and returns to Canada’s streets a safer, more skilled motorist.
At the end of the season, host Andrew Younghusband declares one lousy licensee “Canada’s Worst Driver.”
“The driving instruction was very good, and it was exactly what I needed,” Chesire says. The instructors “helped change my actions in the car, and the lessons and challenges were very close to my own reality (of recovery).
“For example, the simple rule of looking where you want to go – I became more competent in life and as a driver.”
Proper Television will soon be in Alberta and other Canadian cities searching for nominees, and according to O’Sullivan, there’s no lack of poor drivers in Alberta.
“We’re very thankful to the people of Alberta – you guys are terrible drivers,” O’Sullivan laughs.
“No, really, I think there are more awful drivers in Alberta than anywhere else.
“Why is that? You just all seem to be more removed from what you’re doing behind the wheel.”
Chesire wasn’t the only Alberta driver to appear in Season 7. He was joined by Tab Parks, also of Calgary, and Sly Grosjean of Lethbridge.
Each individual selected to participate in Canada’s Worst Driver lacks a particular driving skill, from the one with a lead foot to the one who is constantly distracted.
“There’s a range of problems we attempt to fix,” O’Sullivan says.
“The rehabilitation part of the show is very important. There’s a lot of time and effort spent (off-camera) with a professional driving instructor.
“The tests or challenges just show what’s stuck with the participants.”
According to O’Sullivan, the show is frightening to make, and his heart is in his mouth every season. There has never been an injury to cast or crew, but there have been close calls.
“We have to be really aware of what’s going on,” O’Sullivan says.
Chesire was not Canada’s Worst Driver in Season 7.
He could have been sent home after the fourth show.
But he felt he was doing positive work, helping showcase the reality of the results of poor driving, and stayed on to the end.
Now, he participates in the P.A.R.T.Y. (Prevent Alcohol and Risk-Related Trauma in Youth) program, and speaks to school-aged children about choices in life – good and bad.
Chesire says: “Canada’s Worst Driver changed my life. I walked away a better driver and a better person.”
Photograph by: Proper Television , handout