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Behind-the-Wheel

Can you pass a driver's test?

Testing a driver's knowledge at licence renewal

What 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 Learner Drivers have 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 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?

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/driver-licencing/testing-drivers-knowledge-licence-renewal

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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