Zimbabwean man lebelled worst drive in Canada

MONTREAL, CANADA – Dean Sibanda is a most affable fellow. You'd probably love to bump into him. Just not on any road on which he may be attempting to drive.\r\n

Sibanda is a special kind of bad driver. In fact, he may well be the worst in all of Canada. That will be determined over the next two months. Sibanda is one of eight -and (somewhat surprisingly) the only Montrealer in the bunch -vying for perhaps the not-so-coveted title of Canada’s Worst Driver.

Sibanda has come a long way so far. He was selected to the Elite Eight from a dreadful-driving group of more than 1,000 nominees from around the country.

But competition will be stiff for Sibanda on Season Six of Canada’s Worst Driver, airing Mondays at 10 p.m. on Discovery. One of his fellow competitors, Dale, a sweet granny from St. Catharines, Ont., managed to smack into a police cruiser -while the officer was outside it, writing her a ticket.

Then again, Sibanda has his own issues when behind the wheel. Such as a failure to recognize stop signs and speed limits. And, perhaps worst of all, confusion about which side of the road he should be cruising.

But he has an excuse of sorts for the latter. Sibanda comes from Zimbabwe, where they drive on the left side of the road. (For the directionally challenged, we drive on the right side.) He moved to Montreal nine years ago and has been driving for the last four, but admits that he still gets confused trying to figure out on which side of the road to motor.

"The truth of the matter, though, is that I suck really bad at driving," says Sibanda, 33, who has clearly had less difficulty adapting to North American colloquialisms than to driving.

"It seems that I made the list of eight without very much problem at all. And from what I’ve seen from my fellow competitors, I am pretty confident that I will at least end up in the top three of the worst drivers."

Fighting words. Beginning Monday, one of the best of the eight will be eliminated from competition each week until the worst is determined.

We may not want to run into them on the road, but we sure seem to want to watch them screw up behind the wheel from a safe distance. Season Five of Canada’s Worst Driver was caught by more than 4 million viewers each week, making it last season’s No. 1-ranked Canadian series on specialty television. The good news for Canadian motorists is that Sibanda and the seven other woeful motorists are now enrolled in an intense Driver Rehab program, under the aegis of instructors with a tough-love approach. They are being thrust into a controlled driving environment and being evaluated by a panel of driving experts, who will seek to eradicate their bad behind-the-wheel behaviours.

And the better news for Montreal motorists is that Sibanda is not attempting to negotiate city streets for the time being. That’s because he has no car. And the reason he has no car is that he totalled it. That was his second car. He also totalled the first one. And he can’t afford to buy another.

Mercifully, he didn’t hurt anyone else or himself in trashing his two cars. The demise of the first car came when he attempted to drive out of his garage -and let’s just say the garage won that battle. His second car’s trip to the scrapyard came when Sibanda veered off the road, spun out, and hit an unforgiving concrete median. For that offence, he also received a hefty ticket for negligent driving.

"I guess the good part is that I’m now taking public transport," says Sibanda, who works as a shipper in a clothing factory. "Anyway, I think I was pretty close to losing my licence, which is why my friends nominated me for this competition."

Not surprisingly, Sibanda claims his friends are scared to drive with him.

"Actually, I only had one friend who would dare to drive with me, and that was because he had a driver’s licence but no car. And he was sure that I would become so confused and terrified driving that I would let him take over the wheel.

"I’m sure it’s not just me, but I find getting around in this city just so complicated. There’s construction everywhere. It doesn’t help that my French is not great and that I don’t always understand the signs. And that sometimes in trying to read the signs while trying to drive can be dangerous."

Perhaps to allay any fears, Sibanda pledges not to drive downtown on his own any longer. Or to drive anywhere during the day.

"I really prefer driving at night, when there are less cars on the road, and less of a chance to hit any of them. Also I want to reassure Montrealers that I would never drink and drive."

If Sibanda emerges as Canada’s Worst Driver, he will not only benefit from more Driver Rehab, but he will also win a trophy, which he believes has been, appropriately, crafted from scrapped car parts.

"I think my family is both somewhat proud and somewhat scared of my accomplishment," he adds. "Luckily, though, they all live in Africa and don’t have to drive with me.

"But, honestly, I think the best thing for me would be to make enough money to get a chauffeur to drive me around. I just may be a little too nervous to become a decent driver."

Season Six of Canada’s Worst Driver airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on Discovery. For more information, go to Worstdriver.ca

Read more: montrealgazette.com