The only thing keeping a new B.C. driver away from independence on the road is the ICBC road test.
Currently, the demand for the tests have never been higher. Last month, a record 35,000 road tests were conducted throughout the province, and the monthly average was up 24 per cent.
“Not only are more drivers looking to get their B.C. driver’s licence than ever before, nearly half are failing to pass their first attempt at a road test,” according to ICBC. “These drivers end up booking additional appointments, which puts further strain on road test availability.”
“It can be a really nervous thing in your life,” said Jerry Boal, manager of the North Vancouver driver’s office, who was also a driver examiner for many years. He encourages new drivers not to take their test until “they’ve gained a lot of driving experience and feel confident about their skills.”
Observations and speed maintenance are the main two reasons drivers fail their road tests reports Boal.
“People really miss a lot of observations on their first times, even on a couple of other attempts because they’re not doing their observations on shoulder checks for lane changes, or pulling over and parking.”
When it comes to speed maintenance, he says it “can be a really huge factor in driving. People miss 30 km zones, miss the 50 km zones, their speed is inconsistent, too fast, too slow. Those two things I mentioned, they (drivers) can really work on them so they feel more confident. That’ll be a huge step in the right direction.”
The pandemic also played a part in increasing road test demand. Due to COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, ICBC had a huge influx of people over the last year doing their knowledge test.
“That means there’s a huge influx of people doing their road tests, which is going on right now,” said Boal.
On Vancouver Island, the monthly average was up 22 per cent in May for the amount of road tests conducted.
“It’s a little bit better on the Island for first-timers,” Boal said.
When it comes to driving on Vancouver Island, ICBC has conducted 15 per cent more road tests on the Island compared to the same period in 2018 to 2019, before the pandemic.