Clown driving a small buggy and waving at camera

Getting My License During a Pandemic

I started 2020 with the goal of learning how to drive. Tomorrow, I’ll be putting my skills to the test in the hopes of getting my Class 7N “Novice” Driver’s License. In British Columbia, that means I’ll be able to drive unsupervised.

The journey to this day has been long, protracted even further by everyone’s favourite biological bastard, COVID-19. I started studying for the preliminary knowledge test back in January 2020, which all prospective drivers are required to pass before they can even get on the road. Then, in February, I started learning behind-the-wheel with my Dad. After the coronavirus hit in March, we took a few months off due to health concerns before resuming lessons again in June.

All in all, I’ve accrued just over 60 hours of driving practice. ICBC — the corporation that handles driver’s licensing where I live — recommends logging least 60 hours of practice before attempting a road test, so I’ve met their threshold. But while I feel pretty confident in my driving, I can’t help but feel like passing the road test will require a herculean effort in perfectionism.

The stakes are certainly high. ICBC is backed up with road test appointments due to COVID-19, so failure means having to potentially wait until 2021 before getting another shot at the test. No pressure.

The other source of my anxiety stems from how difficult the test is. From what I can gather, ICBC is notoriously strict about its road test criteria.

ICBC examiners aren't looking for perfection, according to ICBC

ICBC says their examiners aren’t looking for perfection, but according to many people who have taken the test, they are.

Now, don’t get me wrong: driving is dangerous, and new drivers should have to demonstrate mastery of fundamental driving skills before being allowed to drive alone. But after watching videos and reading anecdotes about driver licensing in other states and provinces, it becomes clear that ICBC has high road test standards.

Out of curiosity (and as a form of test prep), I’ve been asking around and reading about people’s reasons for failing the ICBC Class 7N test. Here are some of those reasons. However, note that ICBC uses a point-based road test grading system, making it possible to fail for a combination of faults. The ICBC road test criteria sheet is also difficult to interpret as a test-taker, so some of these failure anecdotes could be misinterpretations or flat-out wrong.

  • Turning the wheel to the left while waiting in a stopped position to complete a left turn
  • Going 5km/h under the speed limit (45 in a 50 zone)
  • Shoulder checking, but not shoulder checking deep enough
  • Not turning wheels to the proper position while parked

Typing this all out isn’t exactly helping my nerves. But I think I have a good chance of passing. I’ll be sure to give an update on how the test went.

Update: I passed!


Featured image by skeeze from Pixabay

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