Driving-Test Failure Rates Highest in Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley
METRO VANCOUVER - New drivers in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley are nearly twice as likely to fail their driving test as those outside the Lower Mainland, according to ICBC data provided to The Vancouver Sun.
At the request of The Sun, ICBC provided a detailed breakdown of failure rates at its driver licensing centres across the province for several types of driving tests in 2010.
The data reveals the failure rate is highest in Chilliwack, where a third of those who took their final Class 5 driving test failed, and lowest in Kamloops, where only one in 10 failed the test.
Class 5 is the typical licence most drivers receive at the end of the graduated licensing program.
The data also shows a clear split between licensing centres in the Lower Mainland and those everywhere else. With the exception of Langley, which has a failure rate of 22 per cent, all other licensing centres in the Lower Mainland fail at least a quarter of the drivers who attempt the final Class 5 test, with Burnaby and Surrey both failing 31 per cent of drivers.
In contrast, all licensing centres outside the Lower Mainland have failure rates below 25 per cent, including 11 per cent in Kelowna and 16 per cent in Victoria. Overall, Lower Mainland driving centres have a failure rate of 28 per cent, compared to 16 per cent in the rest of B.C. ICBC spokesman Adam Grossman said failure rates have always been higher in the Lower Mainland.
"The key thing is the road conditions themselves," he said. "There's a higher volume of traffic, more traffic signals, more traffic lights, more pedestrians, more school grounds. There's also more freeway merging. All of those things combined are going to make the test in the Lower Mainland a little bit more difficult."
In addition to measuring general driving skill, driving examiners are instructed to automatically fail anyone who violates the Motor Vehicle Act during the test or takes a dangerous action - for example, going too fast in a school zone or not stopping for a pedestrian in a crosswalk. The complexity of driving in the Lower Mainland makes those types of automatic fails more likely, said Grossman.
He said ICBC does its best to make driving tests as consistent as possible across the province, creating set routes in each city that test a range of driving skills. "But there's no way we can replicate what's happening in Surrey in Kelowna," he said. "And we have to run tests all across the province to reach out to customers."
Failure rates for the Class 7 driving test - which new drivers must take to get their learner's licence - don't vary as dramatically as the Class 5 final test, ranging from a high of 60 per cent in North Vancouver to a low of 28 per cent in Kelowna.
And the gap is even narrower for the ICBC knowledge test - a multiple-choice quiz that's identical in all licensing centres. Surrey has the highest failure rate, at 57 per cent, and Victoria the lowest at 40 per cent.
In contrast, the range in failure rates is most dramatic for commercial driving tests. Of those taking a Class 1-4 driving test in Surrey, 48 per cent fail - nearly five times the failure rate in Kelowna, which is 10 per cent. Grossman said the Lower Mainland's tough driving conditions pose a challenge for those taking bus or truck driving tests, too. With failure rates much higher in the Lower Mainland than elsewhere, new drivers could be tempted to schedule their driving test for the next time they're passing through Kelowna or Victoria.
Grossman said those scheduling a driving test online can technically sign up to take the test wherever they wish. But ICBC reserves the right to turn someone down if they appear to be taking a test outside their home community for no good reason.
"We've done that quite a few times - refused people the right to take a test there and ask them to rebook in their area," said Grossman. "We want people to be passing their road test in the area where they're going to be living and driving."
Grossman said ICBC also doesn't want licensing centres in the Okanagan to get clogged up with drivers looking for an easy pass.
"It would be unfair on Kamloops if we saw a whole influx of people from the Fraser Valley - because Kamloops people would see their wait times go up," he said.
Immigrants who come to B.C. with a driver's licence from another country usually have to take a driving test here before they can get a B.C. licence. Failure rates for those tests are quite high, with about half of all foreign drivers failing. However, because foreign drivers don't go through the graduated licensing program, their performance doesn't affect the failure rates for Class 7 and Class 5 final tests.
You can see an interactive graphic showing failure rates in different cities for different types of driving tests at vancouversun.com/drivingtest.
[Source - Vancouver Sun]
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