For Your Road Test Success
Do you need to pass your ICBC road test in British Columbia?
This in-depth article will offer many great tidbits and tips, written by an experienced driving instructor from North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Find out what examiners are looking for, learn about common mistakes that people make, what to expect, and so much more. If you’re in a hurry, check out the Road Test Tips Mini Version.
If you want a different perspective, check out my article contributed by a student driver with their tips on passing the ICBC road test: A Road Test Experience and Tips from a Real Student Driver
Table of Contents
Welcome to ICBC Road Test Tips For Your N Test (Class 5 & 7)
Welcome to the ICBC road test tips epic guide, coming to you from my years of experience as a driving instructor in North Vancouver, Canada. Warning: This is long. I got a little carried away. Maybe grab a coffee.
How Many Mistakes Are Allowed on Road Test ICBC?
I can’t really answer how many mistakes are allowed on the road test before someone fails because ICBC is no longer using demerit points for these particular tests. The best way I could explain it to you is that there are different routes, and some routes have more right turns than others, so some people are allowed more mistakes on right turns than others.
If you forget a right shoulder check before a right turn, and then forget another right shoulder check, and then forget another right shoulder check, then you might fail.
The examiner (not the “instructor”) will notice a pattern that needs to be corrected. Forgetting two or three right shoulder checks on a road test might not seem like the most life-threatening thing.
But in the real world, fatal incidents have occurred because a driver turned right and failed to make sure it was safe first. Perhaps the driver didn’t check their blind spot, or perhaps they didn’t check their blind spot at the proper moment.
Each time you make the same mistake, the examiner will note it. If you make the same mistake more than roughly two to four times, you’ll fail.
However, if you make a bunch of different mistakes, rather than the same mistake over and over, it will show the examiner that you are a human. And just like other humans, you can still drive safely, get to where you’re going, and do so without hurting anybody, but without being perfect, either.
I hope that answers that question. I know I went deep there, eh? You can read more about how ICBC actually marks the road test in this article about how to understand global skills and the marking system.
Make Sure Your Vehicle Is Ready
Before the road test, the examiner will check some items on your vehicle. It’s worth it to take a few moments and check it out yourself well before the road test in case something needs attention. Sometimes, road tests are canceled because a vehicle isn’t “good enough.”
Here are some common reasons why ICBC cancels a road test due to vehicle condition:
- Gas or fuel gauge on empty
- Illegal or unsafe vehicle modifications
- Broken or cracked tail lights
- Signal lights or headlights not working
- Horn not working (it’s illegal to drive without a proper working horn. Horns save lives every single day. Did that sound dramatic?)
- Seat belts not working, or frayed
Faulty exhaust – Imagine your exhaust falls off in the middle of an intersection, you have to park your car and pick up your muffler from the middle of the intersection. It sounds romantic, doesn’t it? This actually happened to me when I was driving a patient transfer (non-emergency inter-hospital) bus, but not in the middle of an intersection. I was leaving Eagle Ridge Hospital and I heard my exhaust literally hit the pavement after I stopped at the stop sign.
The exhaust was still attached, but also on the ground, so I could not drive. Another bus turned into the hospital, stopped right beside me and stared at me, and informed me that my exhaust was on the pavement, laying down like it was tired. Yeah. Um, I already knew. It’s sort of hard not to notice that type of thing, especially on a bus. lol.
Windows & doors
- Doors or windows not functioning properly (imagine the examiner gets into your car for the road test, but after the road test, their door handle won’t work, and they’ll be living in your car forever! Now does that not sound fun or what?)
- Unsafe tires
- Cracked windshield
- Illegally tinted windshield – windows must not be tinted from the driver’s shoulders or forwards, interesting fact eh?
Lack of insurance – expired or not valid, so you need to check your license plate is attached and valid and that you have the proper paperwork inside the vehicle with the proper permission to drive that vehicle. Some people have insurance like a company work vehicle, or a small business, or a very experienced driver without the necessary permissions for brand new drivers.
If your vehicle does have an issue
If there is a problem with your vehicle and it is not feasible to have it fixed before your road test date, consider:
- Borrow a friend’s or family member’s car if possible
- Check out our guide: New Driver Car Rental, Sharing, and Car For Road Test Options
- Call a driving school and use their car
Can I Use My Friend’s Car for the ICBC Road Test?
Yes! What are friends for, anyway? You must show up with:
- A car with a Canadian license plate
- You may use any car that you have permission and insurance to drive
Automatic Fails on the ICBC Road Test Class 5/7
You Will Not Pass Your Road Test ICBC If You Do Anything Illegal…
You can fail the ICBC road test automatically for simply doing anything dangerous or illegal, such as:
- Speeding – which, technically speaking, is 51 km/hr in a 50 zone
- Lane changing over a solid white line or crosswalk
- Driving the wrong way down a one-way street
- Reversing into an intersection
- Going through a stop sign without stopping
…Or If You Do Anything Unsafe
You can fail the ICBC road test automatically for doing anything unsafe, because, well, we can’t have dangerous drivers passing the road test. A few examples of this would be:
- If you didn’t see a pedestrian and they had to jump out of your way
- If another driver has to do evasive action in order to avoid you
- If you hit the wrong pedal and accidentally drive onto the sidewalk
- You back up while parking but you don’t notice a person walking behind your vehicle
- Steering during the road test with only one hand on the wheel (only exception: backing up in a straight line)
How Many Times Can You Fail a Road Test?
You can fail the ICBC road test an unlimited number of times unless you’re a senior going for a re-exam. I have met quite a few people who failed the ICBC road test eight or nine times.
The thing is, they drove perfectly fine in their driving lessons – to the point I felt like I could close my eyes and have a nap while they were driving – but got very nervous on the road test. This happens to a lot of people.
So if you keep failing, maybe try going for a driving lesson to make sure your skills are there. And if your skills are good, then it’s just a matter of trying to relax and act normal, which of course is easier said than done. But keep trying; you can totally do it. 100% of the people I met who kept trying the road test after failing multiple times eventually passed it.
Be safe, not perfect
You don’t need to be perfect to pass your road test. No one drives perfectly all the time, not even driving instructors. We are all human. You can make some mistakes but it shouldn’t be the same mistake over and over; the examiner will then notice a pattern that needs to be corrected.
Stressing about parking
Most people seem to be very worried about their parking ability (or lack of it). If you’re stressing more about the parking than about other things, stop right now! You should know how to park, but you don’t have to be a pro at it.
You’re allowed to make corrections. You can fix it/readjust it if it doesn’t work the first time or the second time. That’s the same thing people do in real life.
Examiners on the road test ICBC are not timing you. They’re not going to get out at the end and measure it to make sure the vehicle is exactly between the lines and perfectly straight.
Although, of course, it’s a nice bonus if your passengers can actually get out of the car after you’re done parking.
Good observation skills are more important
It’s more important that you have good observation skills when parking and you’re looking in the correct direction when reversing. When you drive forwards, you look forwards, right? So, when you drive backward, you must look backward.
And no, this does not mean looking in your mirror. If your car is a bit crooked when you’re done parking, that’s not actually going to hurt anybody.
Becoming good at parking can take many years of experience. Examiners do not expect new drivers to be perfect: they expect your decisions and maneuvers to be safe and legal.
Hazard Perception Preparation
On the ICBC road test, the examiner will ask you to point out some potential hazards that you can – or can’t – see around your vehicle. You’ll do this while you are stopped for Class 7 (to get your “N”), or while driving to get your Class 5. Check out my full ICBC Hazard Perception Preparation Article to learn more about that.
ICBC Road Test Tips – Driving At Intersections Properly
Safety at intersections
If you insist on worrying about something, worry about your ability to safely turn left, right, and go straight at intersections
Collisions at intersections
Collisions happen most frequently at intersections. Surely it’s critically important for you to know how to properly navigate your intersections safely and confidently
Turning left is generally considered dangerous and turning incorrectly or when it isn’t safe could have very devastating consequences.
ICBC Road Test Tips – Stopping At Stop Signs
Stopping At The Stop Sign
Also Known As The California Stop Or Rolling Stop
You don’t have to stop, take out your stopwatch, and count to 10 seconds or anything like that. But, do make sure that you indeed fully & completely stopped moving. Do you know what I mean?
A lot of drivers don’t completely stop their vehicles. They just kind of, sort of, slow down the type of thing; try to avoid this bad habit. Check out my in-depth article about stop signs to learn more: Stop Sign vs. Stop Line – Stopping Guide for Drivers.
Stopping For A Right Turn On A Red Light
Many student drivers hear “you can turn right on a red light.”
Stop completely at all red lights
But some don’t realize that it’s not the same as a green light; you must stop first. If you just slow down and turn without actually stopping, it’s illegal.
This is because if your light is red, it means someone else has a green light. It’s your job to figure out who that is and to yield to them first before you turn.
An automatic fail
If you do turn without stopping, it will be an automatic fail because red means stop; so if you don’t, technically you broke the law, (which they write on the road test results as a “V” for violation) and they just can’t pass people in that case.
ICBC Road Test Tips – Speeding
Speeding: Technically speeding is driving 51 km/hr in a 50 km/hr zone.
If the speed limit is 30 km/hr, drive 30 km/hr, not 35 km/hr. Technically, going 31 km/hr in a 30 km zone is illegal. Examiners will mark you accordingly (some examiners are more strict than others).
Check out my article: School & Playground Zones British Columbia Guide for Drivers to make sure you are feeling confident about them. A lot of people fail for driving 40 km/hr in a 30 km/hr school or playground zone, which is just an irritating way to fail a road test.
Don’t keep up with speeding traffic
Do not keep up with the speeding traffic flow. Especially on the highway/freeway where drivers have a tendency to speed.
I don’t really like how strict examiners can be sometimes. I would rather you not have to feel so paranoid. However, knowing the speed limit of course is a must.
Know what 50 feels like
If you have sufficient experience, you should be able to tell what 50 km/hr feels like without looking.
You must show the examiner that you know what the speed limit is. Show that you are willing to accept and obey it regardless of the behavior of other traffic (which can kind of feel like peer pressure in a way). To read more about this, check out my article: Residential Streets & Speed Limits Guide for BC.
Amount & Timing of Shoulder Checks & Unnecessary Stopping On Your ICBC Road Test
People sometimes fail the test because they haven’t done enough shoulder checks. Another reason is unnecessary slowing or stopping, especially on right turns.
Not sure why I lumped these two topics together since they don’t seem too related, but it just happened.
You must shoulder check:
Every time before you pull over (there may be bikes or other road users in the blind spot), Before pulling into traffic, Before opening your door, Before lane changing, Before merging, Before you turn right (sometimes 2 shoulder checks are required before right turns), Before left turns* To read more about this, check out my article: Blind Spots & Shoulder Checks – The Epic Guide.
Left shoulder check debate
*Some instructors are adamant that every driver must do a left shoulder check before every left turn. You really need to make sure there won’t be a conflict with a pedestrian or road user before you turn at an intersection.
So in order to do that, may or may not be a shoulder check that is needed, depending on various factors. That’s just my opinion.
I generally don’t do them before I turn left when I’m driving, and I didn’t on my three road tests and passed them all (one road test to get my N, one road test to get my Class 5, and another road test to get my Class 4).
What I do, though, is make sure it’s a safe time to turn left, by looking out the appropriate window; whichever window I need to see the best. What do you think of all this? Leave me a comment in the comments section below.
What are these various factors?
Size of the vehicle, Height/size of the driver, Visibility characteristics of different vehicles (Smart car vs. convertible vs. SUV), Eyesight – peripheral view abilities of the driver, The angle of the intersection – not all intersections are on 90-degree angles, I’m probably forgetting something else.
Shoulder check anyway
Even if you know there’s nothing there, you must still shoulder-check anyway. This gets you into an automatic habit of checking. It may one day save you from a collision.
These checks are to basically ensure there are no humans in the blind spot.
Vehicles, pedestrians, motorcycles, cyclists, or any other road user, could be ‘hiding’ in this area before you turn.
Even if you are 99% sure there is nothing there, you must still check. Show the examiner that you are actively looking for road users who may be in the blind spot.
Don’t stop for no reason
Do not stop for no reason! Good reasons to stop would be: Stop signs or yield signs where you need to yield, Pedestrians, Red lights, Emergency vehicles, Traffic jams, Waiting for another vehicle to parallel park on a busy street, Etc.
Use Your Parking Brake
Failing the road test for not using the parking brake
Believe it or not, some people do not pass their road test because of this reason! Use the parking brake every time you park.
Driving down the road with the parking brake on
Try not to be so nervous that you drive down the road for a while with the parking brake on. This seems to happen sometimes.
Many people don’t use the parking brake. You should use it because sometimes mechanical failure can occur. The transmission can slip into neutral, and the car may start rolling away by itself.
Why the parking brake?
If you’ve used the parking brake, it will act as a backup plan.
Keep in mind, transmissions are meant for changing gears, not holding thousands of pounds in place on hills. Parking brakes are connected to brake cables usually on the rear tires. Their whole purpose in life is to hold your vehicle in place.
When parking on hills
When hill parking, you do not have to ensure the tire actually touches the curb. You should turn the wheels in the appropriate direction, and do not just turn the wheel a bit; it should be turned all the way. Turning the wheel all the way ensures maximum safety if something did happen.
Being nervous on the ICBC road test
I know this is a tough one, but you have to try & avoid being too cautious. Some people do not pass their ICBC road test because of this.
Yes, you can fail for being overly cautious
Examiners want to see a confident and competent driver. They don’t want to see a bag of nerves driving 20 km/hr under the speed limit and slowing down for no reason at every intersection. (Don’t worry. We’ve all been there).
Of course, people are nervous about road tests and examiners know this.
Just try not to be so nervous that you stop where you’re not supposed to. Or, drive way too slowly, or do strange things that you wouldn’t otherwise do.
Remember to breathe; this helps a lot. Also remember, it’s just a road test. I know that sounds weird, and I know it’s your freedom, but it really is just a road test.
Personally, I’ve found that the box breathing technique works well for me when I’m stressed. Basically, you breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, out for four seconds, hold for four seconds, and then repeat.
Adjust Your Driving For The Conditions, Just As You Would in Real Life
Drive for conditions
Drive for conditions. In the snow, slow down, for example. And, you can slow down any other time that conditions aren’t ideal. Failing the road test for going too fast for the conditions is a real thing, and I’ve seen people fail for that quite often.
Make it look like you know what you’re doing
Show the examiner that you are an intelligent being, capable of making appropriate decisions, based on the conditions that you actually encounter.
The same thing goes for strange situations that you were never taught about in your driving lessons or over the time you’ve been practicing. It takes a lot a lot lotta years to get experienced.
Preparing for every situation possible is impossible
The truth is, we can not possibly prepare and practice for every single situation that we’re going to encounter in our life as a driver.
Roads change, signs change, cars change, technology, the whole world.
Think about it
In circumstances where you aren’t sure what to do, think about it. What would be the best, safest option or action? As Paul, my mentor, always said, “We are not so much teaching people how to drive; we are teaching them how to think.” Dude, you’re too profound. But I’ll admit it, he was totally and completely right.
Driving is not like math
It seems that a lot of people are used to learning things with a formula, such as A + B = C. But driving isn’t really like that. It’s kind of like half art, half science. It’s complex with so many different variables. Every day is different. You can’t just memorize a route and be good for the rest of your life.
You have to go deeper and think about why things are the way that they are. This way, you can practice having the right kind of “always thinking” brain that a safe driver really needs to have, especially in today’s complicated world.
How Can Learners Be Safely Challenged to Think on Their Own While Learning?
When practicing, you can drive somewhere, and then the co-pilot can ask the learner to drive back home whichever way they want. The learner decides. They may need some help at first.
Get learners & drivers thinking
Co-pilots can ask questions back to the learner, instead of just answering all the questions for them. For example, when the learner asks things like, “What is the speed limit on this road?” You can ask them back, “What do you think it is?” They may give you the wrong answer, but at least it got them thinking. The learner will only have someone sitting beside them for so long.
Answering questions with more questions
Ask them further questions about their question, or answer all their questions with more questions. For example, “Do you think that is an appropriate speed limit for this road?” “If you were mayor, what would you make the speed limit on this here road?”
Have learners select their own parking space when parking.
Find more opportunities for the learner to practice in a safe environment, and what they would do if they were driving alone.
Helping them or fighting with them?
Examiners want to see that you’re willing to help pedestrians, not fight with them over the available space.
This means if you aren’t sure if there’s enough time to go before a pedestrian, you should wait patiently. This is much better than the alternative of trying to race them, cutting them off, or driving so close to them that you give them a heart attack.
You should stop for pedestrians in marked crosswalks and unmarked crosswalks (any intersection with or without white crosswalk lines).
Sometimes pedestrians are unpredictable and cross where they aren’t supposed to. To learn more about crosswalks, checkout my guide: What is a Crosswalk? Easy Guide to Marked & Unmarked Crosswalks.
Not sure what to do?
If you aren’t sure what to do, try to think of what the safest option is. Keep in mind you should be keeping track of what’s behind you. We don’t want any slamming on the brake if there’s a semi-truck following too closely behind.
Issues With Poorly-Behaved Pedestrians
Say you’re turning left at a traffic light and you’re waiting in the intersection because there’s a lot of traffic. Then the light goes yellow. You start to turn, but you see there’s a pedestrian starting to walk across the road where he shouldn’t.
Honking at pedestrians
In this case, you should start to exit the intersection and honk at the pedestrian. ‘ASK‘ him to hurry up and get out of the way.
Failing the road test for not reacting
Student drivers often don’t know what to do in this situation. They may fail the road test for not dealing with it properly. Many will hesitate inside the intersection after the light has gone yellow and wait patiently for the pedestrian.
However, if the light is yellow/red by that point, that pedestrian has no right to be there. And while you can’t run them over, you should start to leave the intersection and alert him.
Steering Wheel, Hands On The Wheel During Your Road Test
Do Not “Hook” The Steering Wheel
Do Not “Palm” The Steering Wheel
One hand, hooking, palming techniques
One hand on the wheel is not okay (not considered safe), ‘Hooking’ or ‘palming’ the wheel is not okay (not considered safe or good control)
Improper use of the steering wheel when turning can fail you, even if everything else is perfect.
Dry steering (turning the wheel when the vehicle is stopped)
*Note: ICBC driver examiners do not care if you dry steer on the road test. However, if you do this habitually, your power steering components may wear prematurely. You might end up with costly repair bills.
(Perhaps they don’t care because you are using your vehicle, not theirs). Just my guess.
Use hand-over-hand or shuffle methods & use two hands
Use hand over hand, or shuffle steering. Either one – or a combination of both – is fine; the most important thing is that you are controlling the vehicle. You must use two hands on the wheel at all times. The only exception is when you are reversing in a straight line.
If you’re driving standard, put your hand back on the wheel once you’re done shifting gears. Every. Single. Time.
Taking your hand off the wheel
I have received a lot of questions regarding if you can take your hand off the steering wheel for a moment to scratch or adjust something. Or, perhaps to move your hair out of your eyes. Good news, YES, you are allowed to be human. Just put your hand back on the wheel after. To get more details, check out my article: Steering Techniques for Safe Driving & Car Control.
Observation Issues On Your ICBC Driving Test
Not seeing things
Observation issues are very common among learners. Learning to drive can be totally overwhelming. It just takes some experience. Usually, when drivers are first learning, there is a lot of stuff they just “didn’t see” or “didn’t notice.”
- Not noticing yellow lights, failing to notice pedestrians waiting at a crosswalk, or pedestrians in general, and driving too fast in playground/school zones
- Not noticing turning restriction signs and turning against them (i.e. right turn on the red light with turning restriction). This is a “classic” and avoidable mistake
- Not noticing an emergency vehicle coming up behind or adjacent to your vehicle.
The examiner may let you break the law
The funny thing is, the examiner may not stop you from completing your illegal turn against this sign if they can tell it is not dangerous. That is an automatic fail.
If you have these issues, you may just need more practice/experience.
Turning Wide, Cutting The Corner, Sloppy, etc.
Improper turning simply comes from a lack of training or insufficient practice. Cutting corners on left turns or turning wide on right turns, or both. Check out my article to read more about this in-depth: Turning Corners Not Awesome? Stop Cutting Corners & Turning Wide.
Confused About Basic Rules of the Road?
Right-of-way confusion is a thing that every new driver struggles with at some point or another, usually in the beginning. It’s about understanding – with confidence – which cars you have to wait for in different situations. In other words, who should yield to who?
Further, it’s important to be able to tell when another driver or road user is doing something they shouldn’t (which, let’s be honest, happens frequently) so that you can act accordingly. To learn more about this, check out my article: Right of Way Rules for Driving – Who Goes First?
More Details to Think About on Your Road Test
Did you know that you’re legally supposed to stop completely before exiting a parking lot, lane, & back alley; even if you can see nothing there? Simply stop and treat as you would any other stop sign.
This may cover the part where you leave the parking lot at the beginning of the road test. If you’re driving down a lane (back alley) the speed limit is 20 km/hr maximum. To learn more about this, check out my article: Emerging from a Lane, Driveway, or Parking Lot.
Emerging from alleys
176 (1)The driver of a vehicle in a business or residence district and emerging from an alley, driveway, building or private road must stop the vehicle immediately before driving onto the sidewalk or the sidewalk area extending across an alleyway or private driveway, and must yield the right of way to a pedestrian on the sidewalk or sidewalk area.
(2)The driver of a vehicle about to enter or cross a highway from an alley, lane, driveway, building or private road must yield the right of way to traffic approaching on the highway so closely that it constitutes an immediate hazard.British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act
You should be doing a left-to-right scan of intersections before you go through them. Do it at all intersections including 4-way stops & approaching traffic circles. Especially important when you’re stopped at a red light and it changes to green.
- Don’t just go through intersections without looking
- Don’t make the foolish assumption that stop signs can stop cars, or that red lights can stop cars. That is exactly how people get into trouble. This scan has literally saved my life so many times I can not count them
Scanning: Make It Obvious for the Road Test Examiner
Make it obvious on the road test that you are doing a good scan. Turn your head and take a good look in each direction. Is it actually safe to go?
Don’t just use the corner of your eyes. From the examiner’s point of view, it might appear like you aren’t looking at all. To learn more about this, check out my article: Scan Intersections Before Driving Through – Stay Alive.
Driving Over Train Tracks
If you’re going past some train tracks, even if they don’t have any stop signs or lights, scan before proceeding. There probably isn’t one coming, but if you fight with one, you will lose. You would be the proverbial pop can.
Is Your Lane Change Legal?
Illegal lane changing is surprisingly easy to do. It’s illegal to lane change: Over a solid white line, Over a crosswalk, and while it’s not technically illegal to change lanes in an intersection, it is definitely frowned upon and likely dangerous. Check out my articles to learn more: Changing Lanes in an Intersection – Why You Shouldn’t and How to Lane Change While Driving [Instructor Gets Deep].
Merging Onto The Freeway
You’re allowed to speed up to the freeway speed limit when you are driving on the acceleration ramp. This is the ramp that leads onto the freeway.
When your car passes the sign that basically says ‘If your vehicle can not do 60 km/hr, stay off the freeway,’ then that is considered the freeway ramp. This ramp does not actually have a speed limit. (Don’t get any ideas though because you can still get a ticket for other stuff, such as “undo care and attention” for example).
Just make sure you aren’t speeding up too early while you’re still in the 50 km/hr zone. Match the flow of the traffic, but do not go faster than the speed limit.
In other words, don’t merge at 60 km/hr in a 90 zone unless you have a good reason. (This would be covered above where it basically says “Do not drive like a Granny” ) Also, when you leave the freeway, generally you should not slow down while you’re still on it.
Wait until your vehicle is completely and positively off the freeway, and on the exit ramp, before you slow down. This way, vehicles behind aren’t forced to slow down if they aren’t leaving. We are Canadians… after all.
Technically, these exit ramps do not have a speed limit either. The yellow exit speed sign you see – since it’s a yellow road sign – is a suggestion/recommendation. It’s a good idea to follow these. But, you don’t have to slam on the brakes. Slow down gradually. Check out my other article to on the freeway – Fast Lane, Slow Lane, Right Lane, Wrong Lane.
Dealing With Emergency Vehicles
Read Up On How To Deal With Emergency Vehicles – It’s A Bit Hard For New Drivers To Practice This
I have seen people fail road tests that would have otherwise been perfect because they panicked. They didn’t act accordingly when an emergency vehicle was approaching.
New drivers don’t have much experience with this and it is a strange skill to expect anyone to practice. Just be sure to read up on it as much as you can and be aware of your surroundings. Just do your best.
This might sound funny but an important part of it is simply noticing the emergency vehicle.
If it’s obvious you’re oblivious, that’s a problem.
The other part is acting the proper way. Check out my article to learn more: BC Emergency Vehicle Etuqiette & Best Practices.
Proper Left Turns At Traffic lights – Leaving The Intersection
Exiting the intersection (making your turn) when you’re turning left is a somewhat fine art. You do not want to leave the intersection until it’s safe, but once it is, you don’t want to hang around for any longer than that.
Shoulder Check Before Opening Your Door
Make sure to shoulder check (left) before you open your door. You are looking for pedestrians and cyclists – and anything else. Mini blind spot mirrors (Amazon affiliate link) can help to reduce or eliminate any surprises.
Some common mistakes here include: Looking the wrong way while reversing, Lack of 360-degree check before reversing, and unsafe reversing. Check out my article: How to Reverse a Car – Huge Guide for Drivers to learn more.
Know Your Hand Signals
Make sure you know your hand signals. The examiner will check to make sure you know how to do them. Check out my article Hand Signals For Driving to learn more about that.
Driving In The Back Lane
Unless posted, the speed limit here is a maximum of 20 km/hr
Driving in a lane or back alley might be part of your road test. Some new drivers never experience these, so it’s good to be aware of the possibility. The official speed limit for back lanes is 20 km/hr unless there is a sign saying something else.
Entrances to lanes, parking lots, and driveways are legally treated much more like a private driveway than an intersection.
In other words, drivers exiting the lane are required to completely stop their vehicle before the sidewalk (or before the edge of the road, whichever comes first).
This is to check for and yield to any pedestrians, road users, and traffic before proceeding. Treat as though you are facing a stop sign. Further details about exiting lanes.
Quality And Quantity Of Practice
Many drivers memorize a route and then go on autopilot. This doesn’t help anyone learn, because it is all about learning the necessary skills so that you can drive anywhere, especially in unfamiliar areas, with confidence and with ease.
One of the worst things you can do (aside from not practicing at all) is to drive the same roads all the time.
Go the long way home, challenge yourself, and get lost – it may be one of the best things you can do to improve your driving. Check out my article How Long Does It Take To Learn To Drive? to learn more.
The Chances Of Passing ICBC Road Test
*** About 50% of people who go for the Class 7 road test (‘L’ drivers hoping to pass the road test to get their ‘N’) actually pass the test.
Getting an assessment driving lesson from an experienced instructor at a reputable driving school before going is highly recommended.
Examiners Don’t Trick You
Will the examiner try to trick you? No, they don’t. What I mean is they are not going to ask you to drive the wrong way down a one-way street or to do something illegal or unsafe.
Remember: It’s a test after all, so they are not going to help you either, and they shouldn’t have to. Their job is not to trick or help you, but to assess your skills.
Question: Can You Fail Your Road Test For Not Turning Right On A Red Light?
No, you won’t fail for not turning right at a red light. It’s a red light, after all. It might be good to look around the intersection or to your left, rather than simply staring into space while you wait for it to turn green.
At least the examiner will know that you’re aware of the possibility, and not a completely clueless, knowledge-less, and unconfident driver.
To book your very exciting ICBC road test
Just use this ICBC Road Test Booking link. There, you will be able to book, reschedule, and cancel your appointment.
ICBC Road Test With Check Engine Light
Question: My Car Has Check Engine Light. Can I Still Take The Road Test?
Well, I don’t know, so I asked ICBC online. I would prefer a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer, but I didn’t get it.
ICBC says: The check engine light may simply indicate that the vehicle is due for routine service rather than indicate an imminent breakdown.
For this reason, we do not automatically disqualify drivers from using a vehicle that is displaying the check engine light. However, you must be certain that your vehicle will not break down during the road test, and you will most likely be questioned about it by an examiner.
Did you know you can ‘Tweet’ ICBC and they’ll write back? Here’s what I got:
How Can I Do The ICBC Road Test ASAP?
Question: What is the best way to take your road test as soon as possible? Is it more effective to call in to book your road test?
I have also heard that people go to a testing center early in the morning and if someone does not show up for their test, the person waiting can take the test in their appointment slot. Is this true?
Yes, this was true, but I think with Covid it may not be the same.
There are many reasons why a slot may become available (the vehicle might have a crack in the windshield or is unsafe, and then the test will not happen for that person… is your vehicle ready for the road test?) or the person with the scheduled appointment may not be able to do the test for another reason.
I have heard a lot of people say they’ve had good luck with this if they check it often, a slot can potentially become available in the near future as it is always changing and being updated.
People change their mind or their plans a lot, leaving you a chance to swoop in.
Back-Up Camera During Road Test
Question: Can I use the backup camera in my car during my road test?
Yes, yes you can use your backup camera for the driving test. An ICBC examiner says:
You can use a reverse camera, but as a tool – you can’t solely rely on it. We still want to see that you’re looking back when reversing.– ICBC Driver Examiner
ICBC FAQ Page (Frequently Asked Questions)
If You Fail Your Novice Driver’s Test In BC, What Will Happen?
Failing the ‘N’ Road Test
It’s not the end of the world. You won’t burst into flames. You just get your license back so that you can keep practicing and learning. No biggie. Lots of people fail, so don’t feel like you’re the only one. Even I failed my first road test.
You won’t have your license taken away just for failing a road test. I believe you have to wait two weeks before being able to do the road test again.
*There may be different rules for seniors doing re-exams and for people with licenses from other countries.
Question: Can I Take My B.C. Road Test Using A Vehicle With An Alberta License Plate?
Yes, you can. Or another vehicle with a license plate from another province, as long as it is properly licensed and insured. It must be a Canadian license plate.
As per ICBC:
10 most common reasons a vehicle might not be accepted for a road test:
1. Cracked or illegally tinted windshield or windows 2. Dash warning lights (e.g. air bag) that affect the safe operation of the vehicle 3. Seatbelts not working or frayed 4. Brake lights, signal lights or headlights not working or with badly cracked or missing lenses 5. Vehicle not properly licensed or insured 6. Unsafe or illegal vehicle modifications 7. Horn not working 8. Unsafe tires 9. Doors or windows not operating (e.g. doors don’t open from inside) 10. Gas tank or electric charge too low
Remember Your Pre-Trip Inspection Walk Around
This isn’t anything ridiculously fancy, but it is important. You do need to walk around your vehicle before driving every time. You need to get at least a visual on all 4 tires, not just 2.
Check that the tires are in good shape and that the path between the tires is clear. And check the blind area that you will be driving through.
If you’ll be driving forwards, check the front blind area. If you will be backing, be sure to walk around the back of the car and check that area.
This is not just something to do to show off to a driver examiner on a road test. This is real-life stuff.
Check out this Supreme Court Judgement of a case where a driver ran into two workers who were sitting directly in front of her vehicle at the curb, eating their lunch. She did not do her walk around, or hit them, and they were injured. The driver was found 90% at fault; the men 10%.
It’s the driver’s duty to ensure your car is safe to drive away before you drive it, even if there are humans sitting directly in front of your front bumper where you can’t see them from the driver’s seat.
The only reasonable explanation for Ms. Lepitre’s evidence that she… …did not pay sufficient care and attention to her surroundings as she approached her vehicle and started to drive to complete her errand.
169 A person must not move a vehicle that is stopped, standing or parked unless the movement can be made with reasonable safety and he or she first gives the appropriate signal under section 171 or 172.
How to Pass ICBC Road Test?
Well, the short answer is you need to prepare. Nobody – including myself – is born knowing how to drive. You need to be experienced enough to be able to drive safely alone in any kind of traffic, weather, or situation. And the only way to get better at driving is to drive.
It’s like you wouldn’t know how to fly an airplane either, unless you took some lessons, and got trained to the point you really knew what you were doing… Right?
Sometimes there are barriers to this, such as a co-pilot being unavailable, or too stressful to deal with. Some people may be able to find a helpful driving school with a good driving instructor to help them out with the whole thing. Driving instructors are used to new drivers and are typically quite patient, I think.
Even one or two lessons can help to prepare you to pass the driving test and fill in any gaps that your parent or co-pilot may have missed. Now, this would normally be a perfect moment to shamelessly plug my own driving school or business of some kind, but I don’t even work as a driving instructor anymore. I suppose you could check out my thrilling YouTube channel for videos that may be able to help.
Keep Right on the ICBC Road Test?
Question: Do you have to stay to the right (automatically lane change to the right lane without being instructed to do so?)
No. During the road test, there is a set route (or routes). The examiner will direct you where to go very clearly. If there are no instructions, it means go straight or follow the road, whichever comes first.
Having said that, examiners do want to see your skill level and encourage drivers to do things they might do in real life, such as lane change to move around a left-turning vehicle for example.
In BC it is law that vehicles keep to the right lane except to pass while driving on a highway or freeway only. When driving on city streets you may drive in the left lane if you want, regardless of being faster than the car beside you.
ICBC Road Test Snow
Does ICBC cancel road tests for snow?
Some ICBC road tests may be canceled due to snow. If you have a road test that is canceled due to the snow or bad weather, you will be contacted by an ICBC representative to advise and reschedule your appointment. No cancellation fees will apply. You may be able to check ICBC’s Facebook or Twitter feed for information and updates or use the good ole fashion method – a telephone call to find out.
If you haven’t taken driving lessons and are going for your ICBC road test, I would recommend getting at least one driving lesson from a good driving school instructor, if you can find one. There are a lot of little details that the examiners are strict about.
Brand new drivers don’t need to be perfect, but you should be safe in all your decisions, do nothing illegal, and never look confused by the rules of the road. A little confidence is a good thing.
Most people seem to be worried about parking. And while that is a valid concern, it’s much more important to be concerned with your intersection turns, turning right, turning left, and going straight at intersections. This is where crashes happen most frequently, and it’s the #1 place where you really need to know what you’re doing.
Keep practicing and make sure you’ve driven at least 60 hours if you are keeping track. There are long wait times for the road test these days. If you need to book another road test, keep checking the online booking system frequently because you can often get a spot when someone cancels.
Check out my similar article as well if you want to learn more: ICBC Road Test Class 5 vs Class 7: Prepare and Conquer, Getting Your Motorcycle License in BC.
420 thoughts on “ICBC Road Test Tips For Class 5 & 7 [Instructor Gets Deep]”
One of the reasons I failed my full license exam was because I was using hand over hand steering. Don’t do it! It’s unsafe because it renders the airbags useless/more dangerous in the case of a crash. My examiner recommended the shuffling method.
Oh what, did the examiner say that you failed because of using hand over hand for real? The air bag won’t be useless, but it does have the potential to injure your arms if your arms are in a position over top of the airbag while you crash. It does deploy at around 300 km/hr.
Thank you so much for your blog! This isn’t my first time trying to get my N, but you helped me realize that the mistakes I made were super common and nothing to lose sleep over. I’m going in for my next test very soon and reading your stuff really helped me realize that I think I’ve got most of it all down.
You’re welcome, I’m glad it helps :)
LOL I think you’re missing the point of this blog… You should be more grateful stuff like this exists on the web. This is such typical millennial behaviour, getting offended by every little thing. You people are why we can’t have nice things…
Thank you Carmen for your informative blog! I hope to pass my road test this Spring! <3
Thank you 🙏 😄
You’re welcome! 😅
Oh you can do it !!!!! 😎
You should acknowledge that these men are being incredibly disrespectful of the person who pointed out the sexist comments in the blog. Their use of language should be condemned and is unnecessarily aggressive. That shouldn’t be ok on this type of platform.
Thank you for your writing and work, I hope you understand why I am pointing this out.
Such unnecessary and hateful language especially on this kind of article.
Please relax and try to understand why a woman would not like to be called “hot blonde” in an educational article about driving… totally uncalled for.
Your reaction is more so why we cant better our world as whole, we need compassion and understanding of others experiences, not reactivity and hatred.
I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU for your amazing blog. I just passed my Class 5 Driver’s Test and your blog helped me so much to prepare. I really appreciated all of your helpful explanations of driving rules, how detailed your posts are, and also the humour you add in that really helped ease my nerves. I am so grateful for you and the time you put into each post!
Oh thank you so much!! I mean, you’re welcome 😇 Also, congratulations!!! 🥳🥳🥳
Super helpful post. One big question of mine is: “should I drive at 30km/hr while going in a residential area where there is not postage of speed limit but it feels odd to drive fast when there are cars parked around on tight streets? “
I’ve been told that to be safe I should drive at 30km/he under those circumstances
I got my test this week and that is the one thing i want reassurance on
Heyyyy Yeah for sure, it would just be kind of like not cost effective for the government to put a million 30 signs everywhere you know like on every road, so drivers just have to figure out what the best speed is for the road and the conditions they are on.
Even though the official speed limit maybe 50 km/hr.. there are so many places where it is better to go slower, like on those narrow roads, narrow road with children, dogs etc.,.. 50 is too fast sometimes because of the time it takes to stop at that speed if you had to,.. it takes too long if a kid runs out for example.. especially if its raining etc. so never feel pressure to go fast where you think it’s not a good idea.
The faster you go… the longer it takes to stop, in an exponential kinda way. And there is no “undo” button lol
Oh I wrote something about this, it’s super scatterbrain I need to rewrite but check it out.
Part of learning to drive is not just learning to drive the car but learning like “how to think”.. a lot of young people are used to older people simply telling them what to do all the time but actually you are highly intelligent and can make your own decisions! How fast do you think you should go on the road?!
Also when you have your license and are driving alone there will be weird things that happen that you haven’t practiced and you’ll just have to figure out what the safest thing to do is.. so good to practice the feeling like YOU are the captain of your ship!!. You can decide what the safe thing to do is.
All the best for your road test let me know how it goes I want to celebrate with you!!
Sorry for the rambling !!!
That’s how my husband just failed his test. We could not find a speed limit sign anywhere when we did practice tests down a narrow busy main town street. It was in a small town so people walking all over and very narrow. My husband did about 30km when he drove down it with the instructor. When they parked at the end she informed him he failed as soon as they left the insurance office from Main Street because the speed limit was in fact 50km. We had even Googled the speed limit and couldn’t find it. She later informed him in BC is always 50km, which is untrue as all the towns around us are 40kms.Personally I think she’s insane, I have 20 years driving experience and would never drive that fast through that busy area. It was a real bummer because we traveled 4 hours so he could take the test. Said on his test he failed the skills section for driving to slow for conditions….
You can always ask to speak to the manager if you disagree with the examiner. That is a bummer :(
I sped up this video but for example the road at 13:00 minutes.. i’m probably totally going 30… at the most.. !
Comments are closed.