The BC Graduated Licensing Program Sucks.

I recently read an article on how the young crowd has become less likely to own a driver’s license from the 1980′s to the 2000′s. The article takes a stand with the internet and how easy it is to interact with others via the internet being the main factor affecting these numbers. Looking at it from my own point of view, it’s more likely due to the standards of testing and how the system works (at least in BC).

Drivers Safety and Young Kids Without Licenses

Let me also get it out there that I have nothing against extensive driver teaching and training. I’ve heard Germany has an extremely difficult and expensive driver training program that’s required for a license to drive, but over there, it works. Over here? We still have accidents for the dumbest things and people still have no clue what to do at a dead stop light intersection (it’s a four way stop, people). This means our system does not work, but still costs a hefty amount.

You see, back in the day, when my father got his driver’s license, there was no three year ‘graduated-licensing-program’. You walked in, did a driving test, walked out with a license (provided that you passed the test). It was easy and definitely cheap. Today, there’s now a learner’s knowledge test, a novice road test and then the full license test. It’s something like $15 for the knowledge test alone, another $10 if you pass to get the learner’s license.

Not bad, right? Let’s move on.

Now we’re at a one year learner’s grace period, where you have to gain experience driving before you can take the novice road test. If you don’t take the novice road test in two years, there’s a renewal fee for your learner’s license and on top of that you have to retake the knowledge test. $25. The novice road test is $35 and if you pass it’s $75 for the novice license. Now we’re at $125 total so far. Oh, and if you have to cancel your road test but can’t cancel more than 48 hours before the test? Another $25 charge. The government is already paying you with our taxes, why is it that we have to pay more than 70% of the original test fee to cancel?

So now you’re a novice driver with your spiffy new ‘N’ license. There’s a two year novice grace period before you can become a full fledged driver. There’s also a few minor quirks such as only being allowed to have one passenger unless you are driving immediate family or have a supervisor over the age of 25 with a valid driver’s license. No big deal. Here’s the kicker, though: If you for any reason have your license taken away or suspended (granted you’d have to do something stupid like drive under the influence, which is something you should never do), your two year grace period is restarted. This also means renewing your license again. $75 unless your license expires naturally and not through having it taken away, in which case it’s $17 if you renew with more than six months until expiry date; otherwise, it’s still $75.

You’re ready for your final road test. This one costs $50 and again with the renewal system above, if you pass your final test and your novice license was within six months of expiring, it’ll cost you $75 for your full driver’s license. Otherwise, $17. So lets look at the costs again. $25 for the learner’s license, $110 for the novice license and another $67 (minimum) for the class 5 driver’s license. That’s $202 to become a driver. Over the three years it takes, it’s not much at all, but really, what are you paying for? The difference between an Class 7 Novice license and a Class 5 license is the ability to drive with more than one passenger and you’re allowed something like .08 blood alcohol level as opposed to no alcohol whatsoever. This is what irks me the most about the system.

So what is the point of this giant wall of text you might ask? Well, way I see it, we’re putting in money for a system where you are permitted to drive through one single test. What if you lucked out on the test? What if you most certainly have no clue what you’re doing and completely winged it? That would explain why there are so many horrible drivers on our streets. There’s no monitoring the drivers as they progress through the program, there’s no supervision for a driving school to teach new drivers, let alone someone who has their parents teach them. I think the system needs work. If ICBC is going gung-ho on restrictions and requirements, why not get the ‘bad’ drivers at the source? Get rid of bad habits before they come up.

If you’ve managed to read all this, let me know your thoughts and send me an email.