British Columbia

Frustrations mount as ICBC rolls out re-booked road tests

ICBC has been dealing with a backlog of as many as 55,000 road tests since the start of the global pandemic, when it had to cancel appointments due to health and safety concerns.

Backlog of more than 50,000 road tests; ICBC urges customer patience

An ICBC driver examiner, left, wears a face mask, safety glasses and gloves while speaking to a driver after a road test in Richmond, B.C., on July 20. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Drivers who were eligible for road tests in the midst of the pandemic won't be able to book one until the last week of August — and from there, it could still be months before they get behind the wheel.

ICBC has been dealing with a backlog of as many as 55,000 road tests since the start of the global pandemic, when it had to cancel appointments due to health and safety concerns. Over that same period, it stopped accepting new bookings.

B.C.'s insurance and driver's licence provider will now start reaching out to those customers who had cancelled appointments to re-book.

Drivers looking to book a new road tests won't be allowed to do so until Aug. 24.

Spokesperson Joanna Linsangan said there's no timeline for when the entire backlog will be cleared. Licensing offices will have a limited number of road tests they can issue per day.

"We're trying our very best to get through the backlog," said Linsangan. "The best piece of advice is to practise ... we do not want to have to reschedule you for a second test."

Drivers are also expected to wear masks and ensure vehicles are disinfected to prevent the spread of COVID-19. There will be health screenings prior to every test.

"We had to secure a significant amount of masks for our customers and employees, so thankfully we're at the place where we have a significant amount so we can continue to expanding our phases, and making road tests available," she said.

There will not be any standby tests as ICBC rolls out the program. 

ICBC is now looking to hire and train more driver examiners and open additional locations to help deal with that backlog.

'A considerable amount of time'

Drivers have taken to social media to vent their frustrations after running into road blocks when trying to book a drivers test online over the past several months.

David Eby, B.C.'s minister responsible for ICBC, assured drivers who had tests cancelled in March will get priority.

"It's a significant number of people who are affected and a significant backlog," said Eby. "Fortunately, ICBC is fully caught up on the commercial side."

"Working through [the rest of] the backlog will take a considerable amount of time, it will depend on how many examiners ICBC can get up and trained and deployed," he said.

Eby warned that drivers who fail Class 5 and 7 tests will likely face extended wait times for follow-up tests.

"Hopefully people are showing up to the tests more prepared now, and passing the first time," he said.

Road test scheduling:

Original date of cancelled Class 5 or 7 road test:

When customers will be contacted by ICBC:

When customers can book their new road test:

March 31 - April 30

Prior to July 30

July 30 onwards

May 1 - May 31

Prior to August 10

August 10 onwards

June 1 – June 26

Prior to August 17

August 17 onwards

All other customers

Prior to August 24

August 24 onwards

With files from Tanya Fletcher

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