Whether you were a bundle of nerves or breezed right through it, every licensed driver can relate to taking their road test. According to ICBC, the passing rate for Class 5 and 7 drivers increased from 50% to 58% in 2020. Perhaps new drivers have had more time to practice due to the pandemic, or maybe the reduced traffic on the road has had a calming effect on drivers; whatever the reason, this blog was written to help you be in the 58%.
Before the test begins, your examiner will check your vehicle to make sure important features like your lights, signals, horn and e-brake are working (and you know how to use them). Make sure your vehicle is equipped by reviewing the most common reasons a vehicle might not be accepted.
Now that yours passes the test, let’s get to the first pitfall of the road test:
Mistake #1: Not fully observing your surroundings
According to ICBC examiner Jerry Boal, one of the most common mistakes people make on their road test is failing to perform full checks. This includes performing a 360-degree check before doing parking maneuvers, such as backing out of or into a spot. It also includes right-shoulder checking for cyclists and pedestrians before making a right turn. Boal cautions drivers not to leave the check too late — it should happen when you’re at a full stop before making the turn.
Mistake #2: Mishandling 4-way stops
Four-way stops are a common area of confusion for learning drivers, but they don’t have to be. Stick to the steps below and you should make it through the intersection no problem:
- Always come to a complete stop before the line at stop signs and red lights.
- If there are other vehicles at the intersection, wait your turn. The driver who arrives first gets the right of way. If two cars reach the stop sign at the same time, the one on the right goes first.
- Once it’s your turn, make sure there are no pedestrians crossing, then slowly drive through the intersection while scanning your surroundings.
- Never change lanes in an intersection. Which leads us to our next mistake…
Mistake #3: Improper lane changes
When it comes to lane changes, practice makes perfect. It really just comes down to four steps:
- Look to make sure there’s no car beside you.
- Turn on your signal.
- Check both rear and side mirrors.
- Check your blind spot.
- If all looks safe, go ahead and change lanes.
Mistake #4: Not managing your speed properly
Speeding is a common error on road tests, although you don’t want to drive too slowly either. Examiners want to see that you’re a confident driver, which means keeping to the posted speed limit.
When merging onto the highway, match the speed of the other cars before safely merging (but don’t go above the speed limit).
Stay alert for school and playgrounds zones where the speed limit is 30 km/hour. Missing the signs and speeding through these areas is one of the most common reasons people fail their road test, and your examiner is sure to take you through at least one of them.
- School zones are in effect between the hours of 8am and 5pm on school days only, not including summer holidays, winter holiday and spring break.
- Playground zones are in effect every day from dawn until dusk.
In some instances, road or weather conditions might make it unsafe to go the speed limit. In this case, slow down to a safe speed and leave extra space between you and the car in front. Under normal conditions, you should leave at least two seconds between you and the vehicle ahead of you. When visibility is poor, increase your following distance to five seconds. For more tips on driving in compromised visibility, see our tips for driving at night.
Mistake #5: Letting your nerves get the best of you
It’s completely normal to feel nervous before taking your road test. Unfortunately, being overly stressed can impact your performance and cause even the most competent driver to make mistakes. Following these tips will help relieve your pre-test nerves:
- Don’t tell your friends – The less people who know you’re taking the test, the less pressure there is.
- Try to get a good night’s sleep – Easier said than done, but do try!
- Try to book your test early in the day – This way you will get it over with sooner and have less time for your nerves to build up.
- Lay off the caffein – While you want to be alert during your test, caffeine can make you more anxious. Instead, opt for tea or water.
- Get there early – About 15 minutes before your test, ideally. Enough time to use the bathroom and do a couple quiet minutes of deep breathing.
- Don’t test on an empty stomach – You might not feel hungry, but eating something as light as a banana or power bar before your test will help you focus and avoid a distracting rumbling stomach.
- Believe you’re ready – The mind is a powerful thing. If you’ve practiced, know the rules of the road and are a safe driver, then you’re ready for the test. Repeating a positive affirmation before will help you believe it — even if you’re nervous. Good luck!