The chances a new driver will be involved in motor vehicle incident in their life is almost a given.
Motor vehicle crashes are so common, the word ‘accident’ has faded from the vernacular. With 330,000 crashes in B.C. each year, ranging from fatal to fender bender and with an annual average of 57,000 casualties of some sort, it’s simply accepted that drivers will be involved in an incident, it’s no longer an accident.
Given these stats, it’s surprising ICBC had to make a policy change in 2018 to increase the wait time between attempts for drivers who repeatedly fail their road exam.
“We hope this will help to free up appointments for customers who are more likely to pass on their first or second attempt,” ICBC spokesperson Joanna Linsangan said. “Please get plenty of practice before you come in for your road test – it isn’t a practice run, this is the final exam.”
In light of last week’s reveal – that ICBC road tests in Victoria have increased to an average wait of 55 days in September of 2018 compared to 49 days in the same month last year – ICBC blames the delays on drivers coming “unprepared to the tests, booking more road tests than necessary,” and “thereby clogging up the system.”
That included the staggering number of 50,000 tests a year for drivers who to take at least four road tests before they pass, Linsangan said.
Part of ICBC’s response is to hire 10 new road test examiners for B.C. Two of those are coming to Victoria’s test branch at McKenzie and Borden.
However, the operator of a driving education business in Greater Victoria says she foresaw the increase in wait times for driver license examinations years ago. Kate Wells of DriveWise BC in Victoria said she anticipated the road test waits to increase back when ICBC introduced the new 90-minute enhanced road assessments for seniors in early 2017.
Driver education is the key to truly decreasing wait times for final road tests and it will also enhance safety on the roads, she said.
“I believe [the ERA] is contributing to the backlog,” Wells said. “Though this is a positive change that I’m in favour of, ICBC has not hired enough new staff to deal with the increased need for testing.”
She says ICBC needs to do more to “incentivize” driver education prior to getting a licence.
“We know trained drivers have a higher pass rate the first time they attempt the test (as per ICBC stats), so why not add some incentives for them,” Wells said. “Currently only 6 to 8 per cent take the ICBC approved driving courses, the lowest number in Canada.”
Other provinces do have insurance discounts to encourage new drivers to take training.
“We also plan to work more closely with the driver training industry to help ensure that we are putting safe, qualified drivers on the road,” Linsangan said.