Testing a Driver's Knowledge at Licence Renewal

Question MarkWhat would happen if you had to pass the ICBC Drive Smart Refresher test before you renewed your driver's licence? More daunting still, what if you had to pass the same test that a Learner Driver has to in order to obtain their licence for the first time? Or, horror of horrors, what if you were actually considered to be an experienced driver who knows much more than the basics and the test was actually made to be challenging?

I suspect that some drivers would have to be issued a 90 day interim licence in order to study and try to pass again.

Yes, ICBC makes the Learn to Drive Smart and the Tuning Up Guide available on line for free to anyone that is interested in making sure that their skills are sharp or remind themselves about something that has become a bit hazy over time. Should they have to go one step further and publish a series of advanced guides for self study?

I've often heard the opinion expressed that drivers should be made to pass an in car test before renewing their licence.

Driver examiners that I have discussed this with did not think it would be effective. The driver would simply drive properly, pass the test and then go right back to all the bad driving habits that they were comfortable with.

I know from my experience running the DriveSmartBC web site that there are long time drivers who are a bit hazy on the basics. An example from last week's correspondence was the difference between regulatory and advisory road signs. That person was surprised to find that the drivers she was unhappy with in her neighbourhood did not always have to slow to 30 km/h for a curve warning sign.

The Drive Smart Refresher will help drivers like these as long as they don't make the mistake in thinking that the random 20 questions that they answer if they take the test only once will be sufficient to confirm that they know what they should.

Oddly enough, Drive Smart does not equal Drive Safe. A study by Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, Australia titled The Effectiveness of Driver Training as a Road Safety Measure reports the following:

Promoting driver training as a means of improving driving skills and knowledge assumes that there are deficiencies in the skills or knowledge of drivers, and that these can be improved via training. It also assumes that these skill deficiencies increase the risk of crash involvement. These assumptions are largely false and based on beliefs not supported by research evidence.

What may be successful includes these steps: establish a baseline, monitor driving behaviour, start with those needing the most help, identify their poor driving behaviours, coach those drivers and finally recognize their improvement.

Do we have the stomach to do this or are we willing to be content with just under 1,000 crashes per day in our province?

Comments

Driving skills

This is such an interesting subject.  Age vs skill/competence.  First, I am pension age, have had my license since 16 and obtained my motorcycle license at age 53.  I took an ICBC accredited motorcycle course and practiced for the entire year before my road test.  I had to write the M/C written test, which I failed twice before a pass.  I took two advanced training courses (vehicle) through ICBC & Cdn.Direct Insurance, they were awesome.  My biggest hurdle from 45+ years earlier, some of the rules changed and I was not aware.  e.g. it was a serious violation to cross a double yellow, for passing, turning.... anything, unless it was ‘broken.’  Now, some ill informed rule changer decides it’s perfectly ok to make a left turn on a double solid yellow so long as you don’t impede traffic.  Well that’s a game changer cause there’s a lot of drivers out there that think holding up any number of vehicles is open to their interpretation, unfamiliar with the term/definition of impede.  I also learned that a driver is not to cross a solid white line, either the fog line or to change lanes.  Like they do in the HOV or on ramps - wait for the dotted lines!  

Course, I also found the written test challenging in respect to multiply-choice answers.  I think from experience, we all know whoever writes these Gov’t tests has a very sinister motive when providing multiple answers.  The “all of the above” drives me crazy.  Trick questions, as I like to refer them.  After I’ve read the question half dozen times, trying to visualize what exactly they are getting at, I inevitably pick the wrong one that was very similar to all the others! 

I think what the real tragedy in today’s application for teaching people how to drive needs to be removed from Ma/Pa training.  The traffic is not like it was for me in my younger days and it is actually scary to think of all those bad drivers teaching their children how to drive aggressively and poorly.   Everyone should attend an ICBC accredited course, after their written test.  Not only classroom time, but consequences time, either photos and stories or perhaps a morgue visit wouldn’t hurt.  I volunteer for Operation Red Nose and we had a speaker (RCMP member) who came to tell us how much he appreciated us as he was nearly killed by a drunk driver.  He had a 10 year (nearly return to normal) recovery time and the photos of his twisted squad car were brutal.  I cried when he finished.  I also wrote him a letter and thanked him for sharing his story and I always think of him and CST. Beckett (sp).

You can’t pull trailers, campers, 5th wheels etc., without a course.  

While I have never had an accident, caused an accident or ever made a claim with ICBC (knocking heavily on wood here) I would agree we can always need updating.  I think us more experienced drivers could use a mandatory classroom upgrade (rules-scenarios) and gives us an opportunity to catch up on new or amended road rules/regulations/laws.  Also, some “seniors” who need that encouragement to restrict their driving perimeter would benefit.  I do appreciate sites like this that teach us the right/proper driving rules.  I am always reading the legal decisions and I am surprised by some outcomes.  You can never stop learning or improving.

Not exactly

I was not aware.  e.g. it was a serious violation to cross a double yellow, for passing, turning.... anything, unless it was ‘broken.’  Now, some ill informed rule changer decides it’s perfectly ok to make a left turn on a double solid yellow so long as you don’t impede traffic.

Let's be clear, here. First off, it is a violation to cross a double yellow line for passing.

Highway lines

155   (1)Despite anything in this Part, if a highway is marked with

(a)a solid double line, the driver of a vehicle must drive it to the right of the line only,

That's why they painted a double yellow line, there!

However, passing ain't the same as turning across, such as into a gas station or driveway.

Suspension of sections 151 and 155

156  If the driver of a vehicle is causing the vehicle to enter or leave a highway and the driver has ascertained that he or she might do so with safety and does so without unreasonably affecting the travel of another vehicle, the provisions of sections 151 and 155 are suspended with respect to the driver while the vehicle is entering or leaving the highway.

'Unreasonably affecting' can certainly be construed differently than 'impeding'. It is ambiguous, but it's meant to be.

Drivers Training

Promoting driver training as a means of improving driving skills and knowledge assumes that there are deficiencies in the skills or knowledge of drivers, and that these can be improved via training. It also assumes that these skill deficiencies increase the risk of crash involvement. These assumptions are largely false and based on beliefs not supported by research evidence.

In my opinion ICBC has found this out in their Graduated Licencing program where new drivers that have taken professional training have more accidents within the first year than those that did not go to an accredited school. This can be found in the ICBC document listed as GLP Year 3 and GLP Year 6 Evaluation Reports. In year six it is noted on page 60. In other countries where a Graduated Licencing program has been implemented similar statistics have been found. Unfortunately I have not found any information of accident rates other than through GLP programs.

I have taken the sample tests numerous times and recently found that one of the answers is incorrect. The question is which lane should one drive in on a four lane highway. The correct answer according to the sample test is the LEFT lane which is contrary to the MVA. in sections 150 and 151.

When contacted got a vague answer that ICBC does not write the MVA. Apparently having questions that are at odds with the Act is not a concern for them. Even though a person could fail the test with the correct answer.

Testing at license renewal

This sounds like a good idea on the surface but I don't think the government could implement it sucessfully. They would need more employees to handle the workload so the taxpayer would have to fork over more in salaries and benefits. The already exorbitant cost of renewing your license would surely increase to avoid adding to the huge deficit they incur every year. That won't be popular. Of course some will claim the potential decrease in accidents will make up for the increased costs. Yeah right. If that oft-used excuse had any validity our governments would be overflowing with cash. When was the last time that was the case?

I think you're mistaken, there.

Generally speaking, ICBC charge a $15 fee for drivers to take any kind of Knowledge Test; and most of the time, in most licence offices, they have more testing machines available for action than there are applicants taking these tests. The workload could easily be handled by the existing Customer Service Representatives without them having to hire more staff.

I'm puzzled by this sentence:

The already exorbitant cost of renewing your license would surely increase to avoid adding to the huge deficit they incur every year.

In BC, you would need to pay $100/yr for a Passenger Transportation License, around $140/yr for a Business License, $36/yr for an Angling License, $32/yr for a Hunting License. But it only costs me $15/yr for my Class 1 Driver License. Seems like a bargain, comparatively!

And remarkably enough, ICBC have reduced the size of their workforce from approximately 6,000 employees to approximately 5,000 in the last several years; the licensing department is actually a pretty lean machine.

It's the insurance side of things that's exorbitant, not licensing, IMHO. And I strongly suspect that it's the cost of all those lawyers and court cases that drives this.

Competent Driver

it was a serious violation to cross a double yellow, for passing, turning.... anything, unless it was ‘broken.’  Now, some ill informed rule changer decides it’s perfectly ok to make a left turn on a double solid yellow so long as you don’t impede traffic.

If the intent, as you state, is for the criteria for executing a left turn when crossing a double yellow is deliberately meant to be ambiguous, I would suggest that willy-nilly approach is many accidents waiting to happen, if not already.  Why was that rule changed in the first place?  Very negligible at best.  The rule “was” if the lines did not have a break to indicate permission to cross, then you could not cross!  

Honestly, I don't think the rule ever changed!

To the best of my recollection, while it's always been a common misconception that a driver shouldn't cross a solid (or double solid) yellow line, I'm pretty sure that Section 156 has been around since I learned how to drive forty seven years ago ...

Look at it this way - the purpose of a double solid yellow line is to prevent passing, using the other side of the road; but this has nothing to do with someone wanting to turn left into their own driveway. And so long as that maneuver doesn't adversely affect traffic flow, then why disallow it? It ain't willy-nilly, and it doesn't usually lead to collisions. Traffic laws are designed both to prevent crashes and to maintain traffic movement where possible, and that will be the rationale for Section 156.

Other common examples of traffic laws being designed to allow free movement when safe would be pedestrians crossing mid-block (only illegal under Section 180 if they get in the way), or turning right on a red light instead of having to wait for a green.

Submitted by E-Mail

With over 1,000 crashes per day we need to do something to encourage better driving habits.

In the business I used to work in we would complete some recurrent training at least once a year.

Do driving schools offer driver recurrent training for a certain cost? Driver recurrent training could be some theory exams, basic driver knowledge, multiple choice questions etc.

Also an hour or 2 with a driver education instructor who could come back with recommendations for improvement.

Would ICBC give lower rates for drivers who have completed occasional regular recurrent training programs? With financial incentives BC drivers would be encouraged to participate in regular driver education and maybe we could lower the occurrences of motor vehicle accidents, injuries and death.

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