Trail Driving School owner Gary Fleming is passionate about teaching people to drive

Trail Driving School owner Gary Fleming is passionate about teaching people to drive

Anniversary highlighted by car giveaway

A Fruitvale teen recently took home a free car when a longtime Trail business celebrated its 57th anniversary with a giveaway.

The price was right for a Fruitvale teen who recently took home a free car when a longtime Trail business celebrated its 57th anniversary with a giveaway.

Eddie Philipzyk was the lucky student of Trail Driving School owner Gary Fleming to win the 2001 Corolla that was formerly used for student lessons.

The Win A Car Event was open to any Trail Driving School student who purchased a package of lessons. Over 90 Greater Trail students were eligible for the draw, which was held Nov. 29.

“I loved that car,” said Fleming, adding that applicants had to guess the correct number of lessons (4,860) that had been given in the vehicle between 2003, when it was equipped to give student lessons, and April 1.

“There’s never a day that goes by that I don’t want to go to work,” he smiled. “Some people are just born to teach.”

The former hockey coach and school instructor still gets his time in the classroom, teaching a defensive driving credit course to 16 year olds with a Learners’ license. The “critical” course teaches teens to think fast and make smart choices.

“There’s an over confidence factor that develops in not all drivers but a majority of drivers and that’s why the crash rate of new drivers is so high,” he said.

Though vehicle technology – such as anti-lock braking or traction control – is valuable, driving a car equipped with all the bells and whistles can give drivers a sense of being indestructible.

“It’s always the driver’s fault,” said Fleming. “People make excuses like it was the road, the weather, the car or the other guy, but 90 per cent of the time, the driver has made a mistake.”

A skilled driver, in his mind, recognizes the six conditions: light, weather, road, vehicle, traffic and their personal state every time they get into a vehicle.

“I call it road science. Driving is a science and people just don’t sort of treat it that way,” he said. “You have to really be astute and study the constantly changing conditions and they can change within metres.”

Fleming is now using a 2010 Corolla for his lessons, which vary between a basic driver’s education course designed for someone who has never been behind the wheel to an upgrading skill or winter driving lesson and company driving reviews.

Though the business has crossed many hands over the years, Fleming – who purchased the biz from Berle Jablonsky in 1999 – doesn’t plan on handing the keys over any time soon.

In 1954 Trail Driving School was one of the first to open in B.C. and is one of the original few that are still in business today. It is probably no coincidence that the driving school opened shortly after road tests became mandatory in the province.

For more information on Trail Driving School, visit, call 368-8000.

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