Salmon Arm ICBC Service centre. Lachlan Labere/ Salmon Arm Observer

Backlog: New drivers travel from as far as Prince Rupert for road test in Salmon Arm

Salmon Arm man unable to get his road test until late November in Kelowna

The high demand for road tests in B.C. has resulted in people travelling to Salmon Arm from as far as Prince Rupert to earn their driver’s licence.

Paul Keam of Paul’s Professional Driver Training Services in the Shuswap, said he’s had parents calling from Surrey, Prince Rupert, Fort Nelson and Cranbrook, wanting to book driving time with him for a son or daughter who was able to take advantage of a road test cancellation in Salmon Arm.

“They’re hoping there’s an instructor car available… they’re coming down to do the road test, having never driven in Salmon Arm before. If they pass, it’s a big bonus. If they don’t, they’ve wasted a lot of time and money.”

Keam said with COVID-19 and related safety restrictions, last summer there was a backlog of about 80,000 people awaiting road tests in British Columbia. While ICBC has been endeavouring to bring that number down, demand for road tests remains high due, in part, to last year’s temporary suspension of testing. On top of that, ICBC normally experiences an increased demand each summer for road tests. This year, however, ICBC said there’s been a surge in the number of people wanting to obtain their driver’s licence compared to previous years.

Keam said all of this is having consequences on young people in need of their driver’s licence for work.

“They have a full-time job coming up and they need their licence for it,” said Keam. “If they don’t pass the road test, they’re looking at four or five months to get back in again.”

'N' magnet on car. Lachlan Labere/ Salmon Arm Observer

It’s a situation Caleb Siemens understands all too well. The Salmon Arm resident said he had to quit his job and will be moving to Armstrong for work due, in part, to his inability to book his road test in town.

“My mom sold her house, she’s moving in with my grandmother, there’s no room there for me to live so I’m moving in with my girlfriend,” said Siemens. “If I had a licence, I’m sure I could find a place locally and drive myself to work, but that’s not the case.”

Keam noted those cancellation bookings from out of town were done at midnight when ICBC posts them for every driver testing place in the province.

“So if a student has all their information and is ready to hit enter when it comes up, they may not get the road test where they want, but there may be one closer and within a couple of days.”

Siemens said he does this nightly. So far, the earliest he’s been able to book his road test is Nov. 26 – in Kelowna.

“That’s the only real solution I see, is to hire more examiners to do the test,” said Siemens.

ICBC said it has done just that, having hired 80 additional driver examiners across the province, with many driver examiners working overtime in impacted areas as needed.

“For the Southern Interior, we’ve recently increased the number of driver examiners in Cranbrook, Vernon and Kamloops, which will help increase appointment availability in these areas,” said ICBC, adding they are actively recruiting.

As a result, ICBC said this year, 42 per cent of customers taking a class 5 and 7 road test in the Southern Interior have waited less than 60 days for their appointment.

“We’ve also completed 36 per cent more class 5 and 7 road tests so far this year compared to 2019 across the province,” stated ICBC in an email to the Observer.

To help things go more smoothly, ICBC encourages those awaiting a road test to arrive at their appointment fully prepared.

“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,” said ICBC, adding resources are available on ICBC’s website to help.

“A class 7 learner’s licence is valid for two years and a motorcycle learner’s licence is valid for one year so we encourage customers to book their road test in advance.

“If there isn’t availability, please visit our online booking site frequently as on average, 100 appointments are made available daily due to cancellations and resourcing availability. Most of these appointments are within the upcoming 10 days.”

Keam said the onus is on himself and his fellow instructors to make sure new drivers are at a place where they can pass their road tests on the first go.


lachlan@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


ICBC

Just Posted

Terry Mazzei next to a truck after it was struck by lightning, with him inside, on Wednesday afternoon, June 9. He walked away from the incident without injury and the truck sustained only mild damage; a blown front tire and newly broken gas gauge. (Wendy Mazzei photo)
Nanoose Bay man walks away unscathed after lightning strike

VIDEO: ‘We like to think that his dad was watching over him’

This young fledgling white raven was spotted in the Coombs area on May 16. (Mike Yip photo)
Expert says 2 sets of parents producing rare white ravens in mid-Island area

One of the iconic birds is currently recovering at wildlife centre after being rescued

Flowers planted along Highway 19 in downtown Parksville. (Submitted photo)
City of Parksville plants more than 15,000 annual bedding plants

Residents encouraged to take flower photos and post to social media

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 30-June 5. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
COVID-19 cases drop again almost everywhere on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo had four new cases last week, down from 22 the week before

The Parksville Civic and Technology Centre. Offices will re-open to the general public on June 21. (PQB News file photo)
Parksville’s city hall offices to open again on June 21

Offices will resume pre-COVID hours of operation

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapses during game against Finland

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Her death is considered a homicide and connected to the slain brothers found on a Naramata forest road. (Submitted)
Condolences pour in for Kathy Richardson, Naramata’s 3rd homicide victim in recent weeks

Richardson was well liked in the community, a volunteer firefighter with a home-based salon

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More than 75% of B.C. adults have 1st dose of COVID vaccine

The federal government has confirmed a boost in the Moderna vaccine will be coming later this month

Most Read