Just over 35 per cent of new drivers in the Southern Interior fail their first attempt at gaining a full Class 5 licence, according to data provided by ICBC.
And while failing a first test is disappointing, the problem many young drivers are facing is booking a retest. One young driver who spoke to the Bulletin said that after he failed his first test in May, the earliest he could book a second was November.
On June 30, a visit to the app which books road tests was not successful, as attempts to book appointments for Cranbrook, Kimberley, Fernie, Nelson, Castlegar, Trail and Creston were all informed that no appointments were available. You could book one in Invermere on December 13, 2021. Golden had one for December 15.
According to Lindsay Wilkins from ICBC, there are multiple reasons for the pressure on road testing in B.C.
“Every summer throughout the province, we see increased demand for road tests. This year on top of that, we’re now seeing a surge in the number of people obtaining their driver’s licence compared to previous years. This is putting a lot of additional pressure on road test availability,” she said.
“Compared to 2019, ICBC has completed 45 per cent more class 7 learner’s knowledge tests so far this year, and 36 per cent more class 5 & 7 road tests.
“We also still have increased demand from the temporary suspension of road testing last year resulting from the pandemic. Another factor is that our driver examiners aren’t able to complete as many road tests per day due to the COVID-19 related safety protocols that we strictly follow.
“We’re continuously recruiting and training driver examiners. We hired 80 additional driver examiners across the province and many of our driver examiners have been working overtime in the impacted areas as needed. For the Southern Interior, we’ve recently increased the number of driver examiners in Cranbrook, Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops which will help increase appointment availability in these areas.”
As for the fail rates, she says they are fairly consistent year to year.
“We ask customers to come to their appointment fully prepared for their road test. Nearly half of our customers taking their road test fail on their first attempt, which puts further pressure on our appointment availability as customers are taking multiple attempts. We have many resources on icbc.com to help customers get ready for their road test – from the Learn to Drive Smart app to the Tuning Up for Drivers guide.”
Your best option, Wilkins said, is to keep checking the online booking.
“On average, 100 appointments are made available daily due to cancellations and resourcing availability. Most of these appointments are within the upcoming 10 days.”