After mental health journey, 'Canada's worst driver' back on the road in Edmonton

After being named “Canada’s Worst Driver,” Edmonton’s Krystal McCann is back on the road, but she no longer believes she’s a menace behind the wheel.

'I use it as a lesson-learned for me in life,' Krystal McCann says of experience on Discovery TV show

Krystal McCann says being named Canada's worst driver inspired her to finally get help for her mental health issues. (Discovery Network)

After being named "Canada's Worst Driver," Edmonton's Krystal McCann is back on the road.

But she no longer believes she's a menace behind the wheel.

The 28-year-old was given the dubious distinction during the 12th season of the Discovery Network series, which attempts to reform the country's most dismal drivers.

"Overall, I don't think I'm the worst driver," McCann said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"I think I was the biggest a--hole on the show. I think I clearly struggled on this show with my behaviour and my attitude.

"In that moment, and through that experience, everything was difficult because my mental health had dropped to a place that I had never seen it before."

In the final episode, which aired Dec. 12, McCann shrugs off the announcement by flipping off the host. The series describes her driving habits as "rude, inconsiderate and unacceptable."

McCann said her undiagnosed mental health issues were a big factor in her dangerous driving habits and her flippant attitude. Since the show concluded, she's been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

"Borderline personality disorder has a lot of different components to it and impulsive and reckless behaviours are actually huge symptoms of this illness," McCann said. 

"And it is a TV show, so you film for many hours a day and they show the five, 10 juiciest minutes."

'Now I know better' 

Beyond the challenges of her failing mental health, McCann had never had any formal driving education.

Before getting her licence in her native Newfoundland, her only previous driving experience consisted of joyriding in cars stolen from family and neighbours, something she was doing as early as the age of 13.

"I'm from a small town," McCann said. "So the reality behind that is, did I take cars? Yes. Was it my mother's car? Yes. and where I'm from, a lot of kids take their parents' car, and that doesn't make it right, but a lot of kids were doing it."

The experience didn't exactly set McCann up for success behind the wheel.

She used to hit "everything" in her Jeep Wrangler, including curbs, posts and parking stalls. She couldn't park in reverse and admitted she didn't know the meaning behind most traffic signs. She would often burst into tears behind the wheel. 

After so many accidents, her insurance premium climbed to a crippling $10,000 per year.

Wanting to make a change and avoid "taking the bus forever," McCann asked her then-girlfriend to nominate her for the show and was selected as one of eight candidates across Canada.

The entire filming process was an emotional struggle, but she says it's changed her behaviour — both inside and outside of her Jeep.

She's installed a speed warning in her car, stopped using social media behind the wheel, and is finally getting help for her mental health issues.

'I'm 100 per cent, completely reformed'

She now uses her experience to help her navigate her day job as a mental health facilitator.

"I'm not saying that borderline personality disorder is an excuse to drive like an a--hole but it's a large part of why I drove like that. But now I know better and I can do better.

"If I continued to drive that way, knowing that I have this illness and refused to get help for it [I would be Canada's worst driver], but instead I use it as a lesson learned for me in life.

"I can use that now to teach people about the reality behind mental illness, and teach people how to be safe drivers."

Though McCann said reality television doesn't always provide an accurate portrayal of the people it profiles, the experience did provide her a much-needed reality check.

"Once I was able to get the help I really need, it's actually made me a fantastic driver," McCann said. 

"I do drive, and you know what, I'm 100 per cent, completely reformed."


Wallis Snowdon is a journalist with CBC Edmonton focused on bringing stories to the website and the airwaves. She loves helping people tell their stories on issues ranging from health care to the courts. Originally from New Brunswick, Wallis has reported in communities across Canada, from Halifax to Fort McMurray. She previously worked as a digital and current affairs producer with CBC Radio in Edmonton. Wallis has a bachelor of journalism (honours) from the University of King's College in Halifax, N.S. Share your stories with Wallis at wallis.snowdon@cbc.ca.