Q&A - Can I be Failed for Driving Slowly?

ICBC LogoCan i fail the class 7 road test for driving 40-45 in 50 zone if I'm not impeding traffic (not a busy town) rarely much traffic.

I wrote an article on slow driving and received a comment from a user that claims to be an ICBC driving examiner. Their answer was that it is common to fail a driver during a road test if they are driving slow enough to hold up traffic. If you don't impede traffic, hopefully you will have nothing to worry about.

You WILL be impeding traffic on the ICBC test no matter what, traffic doesn't travel by the ICBC rules.
Ignore the flashies, honkies and crazies. Just pretend that this is Sunday 5am - and there are no cars around.

On the test, instructors particularly look for those shoulder checks on every turn and lane switch.

As far as the speed limit: if that needle touches 50km/h in a 50 zone, it's a tick, 3 of those and you fail.
You are expected to to accelerate to 49km/h as fast as possible briskly, without hitting 50km/h.

Driving slow is not an option at all - everyone I know who drove "slow" failed.

(My untested theory on driving slow on ICBC test:
Consistently driving "slow" will get your instructor bored, and you will be rejected once the boredom bar reaches 100%.
If driving slow, try telling funny jokes. If jokes are not your forte: a sudden turn towards the curb and back away may also keep the instructor entertained.)

Keep both hands on the wheel. Count till 3 on EVERY STOP LINE! (Don't count out loud).

Don't yap, instructors are very stressed creatures, your nervous yapping will break them!

Act cool if you missed a turn.

Acknowledge instructions in a cool, clear, military style baritone - "Roger that whiskey foxtrot"

Don't show up in a lowered sports coupe, with techy aluminum spoiler, custom painted wheels, 100% tint, subs and neon lights. Instructors don't understand teen angst.

As I used to be a Driver Examiner, I take exception to several of these comments, simply because they're incorrect.

  • You will NOT be impeding traffic on the ICBC Road Test unless you deliberately choose to drive at a speed that is substantially lower than would be normal; and normal is what they're looking for.
  • You should only drive as if it's Sunday at 5:00am if it is in fact Sunday at 5:00am - which it won't be, as Road Tests are conducted on weekdays during regular hours.
  • There won't be any 'flashies, honkies and crazies' unless your behaviour as a driver triggers such a reaction in other road users.
  • An Instructor is a person licensed to teach people how to drive.  A Driver Examiner is a person licensed to conduct Road Tests.  Don't confuse the two, their jobs are quite different.  The person who conducts your Road Test will be a Driver Examiner, and in all likelihood will never have been an Instructor and wouldn't know how to do this.
  • Driver Examiners are certainly very conscious of whether you shoulder-check but doing this 'on every turn and lane switch' won't cut it; the check must precede the lateral movement of the car or you're just going to be witnessing the collision with whatever was in your blind spot.  It's like using turn signals; should you signal during every turn and lane change?  NO, you should signal beforehand or it's a waste of time.
  • So long as it's legal to be doing 50 km/h, and conditions allow it, then no Driver Examiner is going to mark it against you if you do this; and you certainly don't have to accelerate briskly to 49 km/h, nobody drives like that and it isn't expected.  They're looking for logical, normal driving believe it or don't.  That said, if you do choose to drive dead on the limit (posted or not) then you've left yourself zero margin for error so it may not be the wisest choice.
  • Too much of the time, applicants do in fact drive more slowly than necessary.  But the degree to which this happens is what will determine whether the Driver Examiner marks a 'C1 - Speed Maintenance' on the sheet.  Quite often (though they probably won't admit it) when a driver marginally exceeds the limit (this happens pretty often in 30 km/h Playground zones, even with experienced Class 5 applicants) the D.E. will mark the C1 as a backslash.  If the behaviour repeats, or the speed increases further beyond the limit, that backslash gets turned into a V for Violation.  However, to get a Violation mark (automatic fail) for driving too slowly you would have to be crawling along a straight, open piece of roadway with traffic piling up behind you in frustration.
  • Boredom has nothing to do with how a DE will be marking a Road Test, that's absurd.
  • Trying to tell funny jokes during the Road Test, or maintain a conversation, will for the most part make the DE's job more difficult; they need to be able to direct you (with as much notice as possible) as to what the next maneuver required will be.  Shut up and drive, paying attention to the task at hand.  You can chat later.
  • Don't even think about swerving toward the curb, for pity's sake.  If the DE reacts by taking physical or verbal control then you have failed your Road Test right there.  At a minimum you'll get marked under 'D1 - General Steering' or 'D2 - Other' for that kind of silly behaviour.
  • You can count to three at - not on - every stopline if you want to I guess; but the only question in the Driver Examiner's mind is whether you really stopped.  And you know what?  DE's get REALLY TIRED of applicants who seem to think they have to make a hard stop to convince them you did so.  Do you know how to tell if you've stopped?  Answer: the vehicle has ceased to move.  It's that simple; all the rest is play acting and that gets very tired.
  • Driver Examiners are not stressed creatures, for the most part.  It's what they do, day in day out.  Remarkably, they spend a great number of their working hours accompanying somebody who hasn't actually learned to drive properly yet (fail rates are often around 50%) but for them that's simply what the job entails.  You probably won't realize this, but the DE sitting casually beside you is mentally and visually so far ahead of where you're at it would make your head spin; they have to be, or they would not survive.  In fact, accidents are rare, because they are so damn good at what they do.
  • Missing a turn is not a good thing; routes are proscribed carefully for consistency between DE's and jurisdictions around the province in order to give every applicant an equal Road Test, so getting the applicant back on the route they're using wastes time and potentially skews the result as it provides more opportunity for error.  For this reason, the DE will always attempt to give a one-block warning for a turn on residential streets, and a two-block warning on multi-lane streets (so that the applicant has the maximum time possible to get any necessary lane-changes done).
  • There is absolutely no reason to acknowledge instructions unless requested; where you look, whether and when you signal, your change in vehicle speed - these are all the indications necessary to indicate to the DE that you comprehend what's required.  But if you don't feel certain - then ask, for heaven's sake!  Deaf people take driving tests.  People with limited english comprehension take driving tests.  Nervous people take driving tests.  The DE knows this, and will want you to be comfortable and relaxed and able to do your best, while following the route that the DE has selected; they will give you as much time and opportunity as possible, and they will want you to understand what they wish you to do next with as much notice as possible.
  • As for the vehicle, simply ensure that the brake lights, signals, and headlights are working and don't have cracked or missing lenses.  The windshield should not be cracked, nor should windows be illegally tinted.  The horn has to work, the seatbelts in good condition, as well as the tires.  It needs to be properly licensed and insured with plates front and back; avoid rental cars unless you have checked the fine print on the rental agreement - because the DE will, to ensure that it's OK for you to be driving the car.  Warning lights on the dash?  Faulty exhaust?  Driver's side and passenger side windows won't open?  Unsafe or illegal vehicle modifications?  Low on gas?  The vehicle will be rejected and they'll refund your test fee.

A final thought about speed, driving slowly, and like that.  Before your Road Test commences, during the preamble, the Driver Examiner will advise you that he/she wants you to drive as you would normally, obeying all signs, signals, and road markings; they will encourage you to ask questions if you're unclear on anything.  They will hope for a nice, normal, smooth, logical driving performance from you; but they know you're nervous and will try to take that into account.  And remember - the DE doesn't pass or fail you.  You do.