Road-tripping road testers putting Vancouver Islanders at risk, says driving instructor

A Victoria driving instructor wants ICBC to crack down on alleged queue jumpers, who he says are coming to Vancouver Island to take their road tests.

Steve Wallace of Wallace Driving School said he’s heard that as many as 30 per cent of test-takers on some parts of the island have come over from the mainland.

Read more: ICBC backlog has some B.C. families taking road trips for driving tests

He said that’s putting Islanders at risk, and that ICBC should make people take tests in their home communities during the pandemic.

Click to play video 'Huge delays for ICBC road tests' 2:03 Huge delays for ICBC road tests

Huge delays for ICBC road tests – Aug 25, 2020

“I’m having people from Vancouver coming to Victoria looking for road tests, they’re going to Nanaimo looking for road tests. That’s against any policy platform that (provincial health officer Dr. Bonie Henry) and (Health Minister Adrian Dix) have put out,” he said.

“Why is ICBC encouraging people to come from Kamloops to the island for a road test. Why can’t they segment and say, ‘you live in Vancouver, you take your road test in Vancouver?’”

ICBC is working its way through a backlog of tens of thousands of licence applicants that built up while road tests were suspended last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more: ICBC backlog means teen’s ‘L’ licence may expire before he can take ‘N’ road test

The province had initially intended to have the list cleared by the end of 2020, but pandemic precautions, such as sanitizing vehicles between every road test, have slowed things down.

But Solicitor General Mike Farnworth rejected allegations Vancouver Island was being flooded with road tripping road test applicants.

“There are more spaces now in the LM for testing than there are in Victoria, so it just does not make any sense to drive from Vancouver to Victoria for a test,” he said.

Click to play video 'Growing fears that the backlog for road tests in B.C. will not be cleared before some learner’s licences expire' 2:08 Growing fears that the backlog for road tests in B.C. will not be cleared before some learner’s licences expire

Growing fears that the backlog for road tests in B.C. will not be cleared before some learner’s licences expire – Aug 27, 2020

ICBC has hired 80 temporary driver-examiners and added 10 testing location, most of them in the Lower Mainland.

Data from ICBC shows that of 429 road tests conducted at the Victoria driving office in January, just 12 drivers were from the Lower Mainland.

Read more: ICBC adds reinforcements to help clear road-test backlog

But BC Liberal public safety critic Mike Morris said the province clearly isn’t doing enough to clear the backlog of applications.

“I think it’s up to ICBC, they saved a lot of money over this past year, just about a billion dollars,” he said.

“Let’s put some of that money into ensuring that we have the resources available to get people their driver’s licences.”

For Wallace, even a few drivers travelling from off island just for a road test is too many, when the province has told people to avoid all non-essential travel.

“They’re coming here to save a month or six weeks or something like that, and exposing people on the island to all sorts of dangers,” he said.

“This is just encouraging the spread of the virus.”

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