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Glossary  for the BDE course



Acceleration lane

Lane that permits drivers entering an expressway to accelerate to the speed of expressway traffic.

Advanced Left Turn

When a traffic signal indicates, you may make a left hand turn through the intersection as oncoming traffic is halted.

Adverse Conditions

Conditions that present a negative effect on the driving task.

Advisory Speed Limit

Speed limit set for special conditions such as sharp curves.

Aggressive Driving

The behaviour of driving in a combative, forceful, or competitive manner, usually caused by frustration of other drivers.

Air Gauge (Tire Gauge)

A tire gauge measures the air pressure in any pneumatic (air-filled) wheel or tire.

Alcohol (ethanol)

A mental and physically altering substance that impacts your ability to drive. The presence of alcohol in your body is severely restricted, and presence of impairment will result in stiff fines or charges.


All of the elements that make your car go straight are called “alignment.” The inclusive term “wheel alignment” involves three main measurements: caster, camber, and toe. These measurements have standards that a technician uses as targets of adjustment.


Is an electromechanical device that converts mechanical energy to electrical energy in the form of alternating current. 

Anti-Lock Braking System

Helps maintain control by preventing any of the wheels from locking while applying a hard brake. The pedal vibrates when pushed, but steering control can be maintained with the rolling traction. Computer-controlled braking system that keeps the wheels from locking when the driver brakes hard. It allows for steering and braking actions to occur at the same time.




Properly balanced tires are important for driving comfort and long tire life. Unbalanced tires can cause vibration, resulting in driver fatigue, premature tire wear and unnecessary wear to your vehicle’s suspension. Tires should be balanced when they are mounted on wheels for the first time or when they are remounted after repair. Tires should be rebalanced at the first sign of vibration or “shimmy.”


An electrical battery is one or more electrochemical cells that convert stored chemical energy into electrical energy.

Beginner Driver Education (BDE) Course

The course that you are currently taking. Completion of this course is required to lower the wait period from 12 months to 8 months for your G2. This course is legislated by the Government of Ontario and monitored by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario.

Blind Spot

Area that rear view mirrors cannot show.

Blood-Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

Amount of alcohol in the blood expressed as a percentage of ethyl alcohol related to the volume of fluids in the bloodstream. The ratio between the alcohol consumed and the blood in the body.

Braking distance

Distance your vehicle travels from the time you apply the brake until your vehicle stops.



Carbon Monoxide

Colourless, odorless, tasteless gas contained in the exhaust fumes of gasoline engines.

Centre of Gravity

The point at which the entire weight of a body is considered concentrated so that if supported at this point, the body would remain in equilibrium in any position. A point around which the vehicle’s weight is evenly distributed.

Central Vision

The field of vision around your focal vision in which you can see clearly while looking straight ahead which aids in determining vehicle position to the roadway.


Contact between two or more objects, as when two vehicles collide into each other.

Collision Insurance (Insurance)

Provides coverage to pay the costs of repair or replacement of your vehicle from a collision.

Common Speed

Speed used by 80% of drivers on an expressway or highway.

Comprehensive Insurance

Provides coverage for replacement or repair of your vehicle from damage other than from a collision.

Controlled Intersection

Intersection at which signals or signs determine the right of way.

Covering the Brake

Take your foot off the accelerator and hold it over the brake pedal to reduce response time for brake application and maintain speed of vehicle.



Deceleration Lane

Area on the highway where speed can be reduced to exit safely. Expressway lane used to slow your vehicle without blocking vehicles behind you. 

Defensive Driving

Protecting yourself and others from dangerous and unexpected driving situations by using a space management system.

Demerit Points

Demerit points are added to your driver’s licence, if you are convicted of breaking certain driving laws. The rules are different depending on if you are a new driver or have a full licence.

Depth Perception

Ability to judge the distance between yourself and other objects.

Digital Instructor

A licensed Classroom Driving Instructor by the MTO who has also received a Digital Instructor certification. This instructor will guide you through any questions you may have about the content of this course.


A graduated rod for measuring the depth or amount of liquid in a container, as of oil in a crankcase.

Driver Inattention

The driver is distracted, asleep, or fatigued, or otherwise “lost in thought”.

Driver Responsibility

A driver’s moral, legal, and mental accountability to the driving task.

Driving as a Privilege

An opportunity granted to a person to drive within Ontario.

Driving Conditions

When making the decision whether to drive at the appropriate speed is safe/reasonable, the driver must take into consideration the condition of the weather, visibility, traffic, roadway, and vehicle.

Driving tasks

All social, physical, legal, and mental skills required to drive.


Any substance that alters your physical or mental state.



Engine Failure

Vehicle failure that occurs when the engine quits running completely because the engine becomes flooded, overheats, etc.


An unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action.

Emergency Vehicles

Any vehicle that is designated and authorized to respond to an emergency in a life-threatening situation. These include but are not limited to police cars, ambulances, fire trucks etc.


A natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one's circumstances, mood, or relationships with others. Can trigger strong feelings such as anger, fear, and joy.

Engine Starting Procedures

Check parking brake; foot on brake; key in ignition; gear in “Park or Neutral”; check for fuel injection or automatic choke; turn key to “on” position; check alert lights and gauges; turn key to start engine; adjust Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC); set accessories (headlights or daylight running lights are recommended); check warning lights and gauges.

Entrance Ramp

The ramp to enter the expressway. This area gives the driver time to evaluate traffic conditions. It can be level with the expressway or on an uphill or downhill grade.

Evasive action steering

Emergency steering technique used to quickly steer around an object in your path. Without removing hands from the steering wheel, turn the wheel so that the forearms touch each other, then turn the wheel in the opposite direction until the forearms touch again. Return the wheel to center position. This is the maximum steer input for lane change and activated ABS. Less input may be used to perform manoeuvres for emergency lane adjustment to the left or right. 




Physical or mental weariness resulting from exertion or other effects.

Field of Vision

All of the area a person can see while looking straight ahead.

Flash Flood

Sudden flooding caused by slow-moving thunderstorms, thunderstorms repeatedly moving over the same area, or heavy rains from hurricanes and tropical storms.

Flashing Yellow Light

Slow down and proceed with caution.

Flashing Red Light

Stop completely before entering the crosswalk or intersection, and then proceed when you can do so safely.

Flashing Signal

Traffic signal that alerts drivers to dangerous conditions or tells them to stop.

Following Distance (Interval)

Time recommended to follow another vehicle in the intended path of travel. Select an object near the road surface. When the vehicle ahead passes that object, start counting “one thousand-one,” “one thousand-two,” etc., until the front of your car reaches that point. Maintain 4 seconds (more for adverse conditions) of following time.

Force of Impact

Force with which one moving object hits another object; varies according to speed, weight, and distance between impact and stop and is based on forces of inertia and momentum.


A divided, controlled access highway for through traffic 


Force that creates heat and helps each tire to maintain traction on the road, unless too much heat is generated which may cause traction loss due to melting of tire rubber on the roadway. 


G license

The final step in Ontario’s Graduated Licensing system. You may drive G class vehicles with no conditions.

G1 license

The first step in Ontario’s Graduated Licensing system. With a G1 you may drive only with an accompanying fully licensed (G) driver in the front seat.

G2 license

The second step in Ontario’s Graduated Licensing system. With a G2 you can drive alone in a vehicle under certain conditions.


Time or distance interval between vehicles on roadway.


A brightness that reflects and reduces a driver’s ability to see.

Glare Recovery Time

Time your eyes need to regain clear vision after being affected by glare.

Glare Resistance

Ability to continue seeing when looking at bright lights.

Good Driving

Loosely defined term that many drivers assume includes themselves when each reaches the point of skilled vehicle operation.

Graduated Licensing

Requires young drivers to progress through a series of licensing stages with various restrictions as to accompanying drivers, times permitted to drive and allowable passengers.

Green Light

Check traffic, and proceed if safe to do so.

Guide Sign

Sign that gives directions, distance, services, point of interest, and other information.


Force that pulls all things to earth.



Hand-to-Hand Steering

Pulling the steering wheel down with one hand while the other hand moves to it. The hands do not ever cross over and simply move up and down the sides of the steering wheel. 

Hand Position

Placement of the hand at 9 and 3 o’clock for best control on the vehicle steering wheel.

Highway Hypnosis

A drowsy or trance-like condition caused by concentration on the roadway ahead and monotony of driving.

Highway Transportation System

The highway transportation system (HTS) is a complex system including a consortium of federal, provincial, local, and individual systems functioning together. The HTS provides a reduced-risk and lawful driving environment made up of people, vehicles, and roadways.


Occurs when a tire patch loses roadway contact by rising up on top of the water.


Impaired Driving

The driver’s ability to drive was impacted due to the consumption of alcohol or drugs.

Implied Consent

States that anyone who receives a driver’s license automatically consents to be tested for blood-alcohol content and other drugs if stopped for suspicion of drug use while driving.

Information Sign

Inform of local regulations and practices.


Pays other people’s expenses for accidents caused by drivers covered under the owner’s policy.




Hand-operated device used to lift and hold one corner or side of the vehicle.

Joining traffic

Turning right or left into lanes of other vehicles.


These psychological functions are the first ones affected by alcohol. A person’s ability to judge right from wrong, good from bad or their ability to reason is affected.



Lane Change

Lateral movement of the vehicle from one lane to another using proper space management procedures.

Lateral Manoeuvre

Vehicle movements to the side (swerve, pulling to and from the curb, lane change, merging, exiting).

Liability Insurance

Provides compensation for damages which the insured is legally obligated to pay; covers others when you are at fault.

Line of Sight (LOS)

Distance from the driver’s eyes to the target at the end of the intended path of travel you can see ahead.


Defines a vast range of materials such as grease or leftover food from restaurants, building materials abandoned at construction sites, and packaging materials from stores.

Loading Considerations

Distributing the weight evenly throughout the vehicle. Do Not Overload. 


Low Water Crossing

Roadways that may have been covered with water or even washed away during flooding, creating unsafe driving conditions. Drivers who repeatedly drive through flooded low-water crossings often do not recognize the dangers of a small increase in the water level.



Maintenance Checks

Checks and routine maintenance performed to ensure that a vehicle operates properly.


Area of ground separating traffic moving in opposite directions.

Merging Area

This is the area to move onto the expressway. Stretch of roadway at the end of acceleration lane on an expressway where vehicles join the flow of traffic.

Minimize a Hazard

Reduce the possibility of conflict by putting more space between your vehicle and the hazard.

Minimum Speed Limit

Speed limit to keep traffic moving safely by not allowing drivers to drive slower than a certain speed.


Detection devices and should be checked prior to and after any speed or position change.

Moving Vehicle

A vehicle that is self-propelled.

Moving Forward

Vehicle movement moving the vehicle to the front.



Night Driving

Operating a vehicle during the hours of darkness.

Night Time

The period beginning one-half hour after sunset and ending one-half hour before sunrise.



Obligations of a Driver

If a driver encounters conflict with other roadway users or the roadway and consequences occur, the driver has the obligation of driving to accept the consequences and be morally and financially responsible.

Ontario Licensing System

The system where new drivers begin with a G1 license, then upgrade to a G2 and finally a G license. Because each step is in addition to the last, this is where the term graduated comes from.

Orderly Visual Search Pattern

Process of searching critical areas in a regular sequence from the intended path of travel. 

Other Drugs

Legal and illegal drugs other than alcohol.

Other Roadway Users

People who use the HTS by walking, driving, or riding (including other cars, vans, pick-up trucks, motorcycles, commercial vehicles, semi-trucks, pedestrians, animals, etc.).

Overdriving headlights

Driving at a speed that makes your stopping distance longer than the distance lighted by your headlights


When the rear tire patches lose varying degrees of traction and the front tire patches have more traction causing a spinning effect (yaw) around the vehicle’s center of gravity. The vehicle has a tendency to spin to the left or right even though the driver is not turning the steering wheel.


To pass the vehicle ahead. 

Owner’s Manual

Owner’s manual is an instructional book or booklet that is supplied with almost all technologically advanced consumer products such as vehicles, home appliances and computer peripherals. Information about everything in the car can be found in the owner’s manual.



Parallel parking

Parking where the vehicle lines up parallel or going the same direction as the curb. 

Path of Travel

(POT) Space to the target ahead that your vehicle will occupy as you travel on the roadway.

Pavement Marking

A marking on the pavement to warn or direct drivers and to regulate traffic.


Road user who is on foot. Usually on sidewalks/crosswalks.

Peer pressure

Mental and social influence of others of a similar age on decision making skills.

Peripheral Vision

The area a person can see that is around the central field of vision. It is conical in shape around the other vision fields. It functions to notice changes in color and object movement.

Point of No Return

Point beyond which a driver can no longer stop safely without entering the intersection.



Dominion over, and exclusive control and use of, a material object or property resulting from the fact of holding it (whether rightly or wrongly) in one’s power.

Protected Left Turn (advanced left turn)

Left turn made on a left-turn light, green arrow, or delayed green light while oncoming traffic is stopped.




The automotive radiator is defined as a device that gives off heat very fast. It also cools the engine coolant as it flows from one end to the next. The automotive radiator consists of a tank on either end, a pressure cap, core and a petcock drain. The radiator allows the heat, which the coolant absorbed while circulating through the engine, to escape in the atmosphere when the coolant returns to it.


Reaction distance

The distance a vehicle travels from the point the driver perceives the need to act and the point where the driver takes that action through braking, steering, or acceleration. Distance your vehicle travels until the driver perceives the need to change speed or position.


Reaction Time

The time the vehicle travels from the point where the driver perceives the need to act and the point where the driver takes the action through braking, steering, or acceleration to change speed or position.


Reckless Driving

A person commits an offense if the person drives a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.


Red Traffic Light

Stop before the stop line, entering the crosswalk or intersection. Wait for a green light to proceed.



Regulatory Sign

Regulates the speed and movement of traffic.


Responsibility of a Driver

A driver’s moral, legal, and mental accountability to driving practices that utilize the knowledge, understanding, skills, and experiences. 



The privilege of having immediate use of a certain part of a roadway. The right of one vehicle or pedestrian to proceed in a lawful manner in preference to another vehicle or pedestrian that is approaching from a direction, at a speed, and within a proximity that could cause a collision unless one grants precedence to the other.



Turning right when the red signal is on, after stopping behind the intersection guides, unless specifically prohibited to turn.



Chance of injury, damage, or loss. In driving, risk-taking (potential or immediate) means introducing the possibility of having a conflict that results in a crash or collision with another vehicle.


Risk Reduction

Applying knowledge and understanding of Ontario traffic laws; utilizing driver preparation procedures; utilizing occupant protection and having passengers utilize occupant protection; utilizing vehicle operation and control techniques; utilizing attention techniques; targeting line of sight and path of travel; utilizing vehicle movements procedures; utilizing reference points; maintaining vehicle balance; utilizing driver readiness techniques; timing divided attention tasks; managing distraction; and utilizing a space management system that includes information processing.


Risk Reduction Techniques

Reducing the possibility of having a conflict (potential or immediate) that results in a non-incident, crash or collision.



Taking a chance of injury, damage, or loss. In driving, risk-taking (potential or immediate) means introducing the possibility of having a conflict that results in a crash or collision.


Road Rage

Popular term for aggressive driving. (See Aggressive Driving)



The portion of a highway, other than the berm or shoulder that is improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicle travel. If a highway includes at least two separate roadways, the term applies to each roadway separately.


Roadway Marking

Markings and lane delineators (reflectors) that give warning or direction.


Road Users

People who use the HTS by walking, driving, or riding (including automobiles, vans, pick-up trucks, motorcycles, commercial vehicles, semi-trucks, pedestrians, animals, horse drawn vehicles, bicycles, etc.).




Eyes moving every 12-15 seconds during the path of travel, looking either side to side, at the rearview and side-view mirrors, checking vehicle reference to lane position, as well as the instrument panel, and toward the target area. 


Seating Position

In order to establish vehicle balance and improve ability to see, drivers should sit in a comfortable, upright position squarely behind the steering wheel.



Avoiding having to deal with many problems at once.


Shoulder Check

After signaling and discouraging other motorists from driving into the lane next to you it is important to check over the appropriate shoulder for approaching speeding vehicles and to ensure that the driver in the next lane is not about to drift over without a shoulder-check. 



Letting others know when you are going to stop or turn. Give signal by either lights or hand/arm extended out of the car window.



A mark on the road surface from a tire that is sliding due to a loss of traction from braking or abrupt steering. When tire patches lose part or all of their traction on the roadway surface due to abrupt suspension balance changes or roadway surface conditions.


Slow Moving Vehicle

Vehicle unable to travel at highway speed.


Space Cushion

Reducing conflicts for space and avoiding “pressure” in traffic situations. Open area around a vehicle that consists of an adequate following interval between it and the vehicles ahead and behind that allow the driver to stop, plus swerve paths to left and right.


Space Cushion Driving

Open area around a vehicle that consists of an adequate following interval between it and the vehicles ahead and behind that allow the driver to stop, plus swerve paths to left and right.



The act or state of moving.


Speed Limits

The safe and reasonable speed declared by the Ontario Government for that part of the highway system. 


Stale Green Light

A traffic light that has been green for a long time.


Stopping Distance (Position)

Stopping behind a vehicle in a position that allows the driver enough space to steer around the vehicle to avoid a stalled, turning, or backing vehicle.


Stop Sign

Stop before entering a clearly marked stop line, the crosswalk or the point where the intersections meet. Stop means bring the vehicle to a complete stop.


Surface Street

A Street that is paved as a public thoroughfare in a built environment.


Synergistic Effect

Chemical reaction between two or more drugs, which may produce a reaction greater than either drug alone.




To follow another vehicle too closely.



An object that appears in the center and the end of the visible intended path of travel. 


Threshold braking

Maximum controlled braking efforts that provide for maximum deceleration without loss of tire traction.


Tire Footprint

Your tires are the only thing keeping your car on the road and driving safely. A tire’s footprint, or the area that is actually in contact with the road, is quite small. This tiny tire footprint is what creates the traction that allows your car to accelerate, decelerate, and turn. If these contact points are hampered by poor tread or under inflation, your ability to steer, start, and stop can be adversely affected.


Tire Rotation

Tire rotation is the practice of swapping the front tires of a car with the back tires at regular intervals. The basic idea of tire rotation is to extend the life of the tires by allowing more even tread wear. Some specialty tire manufacturers do not recommend the practice for their customers, but most car owner’s benefit from a regular tire rotation. Some tire stores even include a basic tire rotation as part of their service contract.


Total stopping distance

Distance your vehicle travels while you make a stop.



Friction or gripping power between the tire patch and the roadway surface. The grip between the tires and the road surface that allows a vehicle to start, stop, and/or change direction. 



Pedestrians, ridden or herded animals, and conveyances, including vehicles and streetcars, single or together while using the highway for purposes of travel.


Traffic Control Devices

Devices used to control the movement of traffic, such as, traffic signals, signs, and roadway markings.


Traffic Flow

Number and types of vehicles that occupy a roadway (may differ during times of day or with other conditions).


Traffic Laws

A traffic rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority.


Traffic Sign Shapes

Octagon, exclusively for Stop Signs; Horizontal rectangle, generally for guide signs; Equilateral triangle, exclusively for Yield signs; Pennant, advanced warning of No Passing Zones; Diamond, exclusively to warn of existing or possible hazards on roadway or adjacent areas; Vertical rectangle, generally for regulatory signs; Pentagon, school advance and school crossing signs; and Round, railroad advance warning signs.


Traffic Signal

Any signal used to control the movement of traffic.



A transmission allows power to be sent from a power source, most often an engine or motor, to a drive mechanism. Transmissions use gears and a clutch to convert the speed of the power source into torque. A simpler transmission is often referred to as a gearbox since it is basically a box containing a configuration of gears.


Tunnel Vision

Being able to see in a narrow field of vision of 140° or less, with little effective peripheral vision.



Uncontrolled Intersection

Intersection that has no signs or signals to regulate traffic including railroad crossings that do not have flashing red lights or crossing gates. 



When the front tire patches lose varying degrees of traction and the rear tire patches have more traction causing a pushing effect on the vehicle due to momentum and inertia forces. The vehicle has a tendency to go straight even if the steering wheel is turned more dramatically.


Unleaded Gas

Gasoline that has not been treated with a lead compound.


Unpaved Road

A road that is un-surfaced, such as dirt or gravel.


Unprotected Left Turn

Left turn made at a signal-controlled intersection without a special left turn light.


Urban District

The territory adjacent to and including a highway, if the territory: is not in a municipality; and is improved with structures that are used for business, industry, or dwelling.




Means every device, in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, excepting devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.


Vehicle maintenance

Scheduled or unscheduled upkeep or repair of a vehicle.


Visual Lead Distance

12 – 15 Seconds Ahead (Searching) – Identify objects that require a change in speed or direction.


Visual Search

Process can be described as an organized pattern of focused eye movement scanning the path of travel. 



Warning Sign

Sign that alerts you to possible hazards and road conditions.


Weather Conditions

Atmospheric conditions including fog, heavy rain, snow, wind, etc.




The spinning effect of a vehicle around its center of gravity. When a vehicle loses traction to the rear, the vehicle tends to move to the left or right around its center of gravity.


Yellow Light

Slow down to stop, as a red light is next. Wait for the green light to proceed.



To allow another vehicle or roadway user to proceed first.


Yield Sign

The road you are on joins with another road ahead. You should slow down or stop, if necessary, so that you can yield the right-of-way to vehicles on the other road.



Zero-tolerance law

Law stating it is illegal for persons under the age of 19 to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in the blood.

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