The Road Test - A Typical Graduated License ProgramA guide to the Level 2 passenger vehicle road test
- About the Test
- What Skills Will I Be Tested On?
- What Maneuvers Will I Be Tested On?
- How Can I Get the Most from the Feedback Session?
- How Can I Prepare for the Test?
- Terror On Wheels
One out of every five new B.C. drivers is involved in a crash during their first two years of driving.
From B.C.'s Traffic Accident System, 1997
About This Guide
If you have spent at least 18 months with an "N" sign in your vehicle, you are now eligible to take the Level 2 road test. Novice drivers who pass this test will become fully-qualified Class 5 license holders. With this license, you exit the Graduated Licensing Program.
Inexperienced drivers are a high-risk group because they haven't had time to fully develop the road skills that will keep them safe.
The Intermediate Stage of B.C.'s Graduated Licensing Program gives drivers at least 18 months to gain experience and develop their skills.
If you are a novice driver who feels experienced enough to move on, this guide is for you. It will lead you through the requirements of the Level 2 road test and help you prepare.
The Level 2 is an advanced test, so you will be expected to demonstrate everything you have learned since you received your Class 7 license. In those months of driving, you should have practiced your skills so that they are almost second nature. The Level 2 road test gives you the chance to show that you are now a safe, experienced driver with excellent vehicle control skills.
The test will take about an hour to complete. You should expect to be tested on vehicle maneuvers in different driving environments such as residential, commercial and high-speed roads.
In addition to maneuvering skills, you will be tested on hazard perception. This is your ability to "read" the area around you for hazards. Hazard perception is explained in more detail later in this guide.
The Level 2 road test will test your ability to perform six global skills -- skills that are necessary for safe driving. The examiner will ask you to do a series of maneuvers. As you do these maneuvers, the examiner will mark you on the first five global skills listed in the colored box at the right. To assess your observation skills, the examiner will attach a mirror to the inside of your windshield. This mirror will allow the examiner to watch your eyes and the road. The sixth skill -- hazard perception -- will be marked separately during certain parts of the road test. Read on for more information about the global skills.
1. Observation -- looking around you
As an experienced driver, you should always know what is going on around you. Keep your eyes moving. Scan well ahead and check your side and rear-view mirrors. Before you make a change in direction or road position, check your mirror and blind spot on the right or left side, depending on which direction you want to move. If you need to slow down, check your rear-view mirror. Before you back up, you need to do a 360-degree vision check to make sure your path is clear.
Turn your head and look over your shoulder approximately 90 degrees in the direction you plan to move.
Remember to shoulder check every time you:
- get out of your car
- change lanes
- turn, if another road user could enter your blind spot
- pull over to the side of the road
- pull away from the curb
- approach an angle or stall parking space
- Check your mirrors regularly, paying attention to what you see in them.
- Scan well ahead, turning your head slightly to the left and right as you look to the front and sides for potential hazards.
- Mirror check and shoulder check when changing position or direction.
- Check your rear-view mirror when slowing down or stopping.
- Do a 360-degree vision check when backing up.
- Be alert at all times.
2. Space Margins -- keeping space around you
You never know what other road users are going to do, so it is important to keep an area of space around your vehicle. This area is called a space margin.
A safe following distance lets you slow down and stop safely if something unexpected happens ahead. Travel at least two seconds behind the vehicle you are following when conditions are ideal. Increase this distance if you are traveling on a highway, following a motorcycle or driving in bad weather. Keep plenty of room on the sides of your vehicle -- at least one meter at city speeds and more at higher speeds. Who knows when that car door might swing open or if that cyclist will swerve to miss a bump?
If possible, keep a space on at least one side of your vehicle. Keep this space to use as an escape route if something unexpected happens and you need to pull into another lane to avoid the problem.
Think about your space margins as you stop your vehicle. Leave approximately a car length between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you. You will then have an escape route. If you are behind a large vehicle, leave even more space.
- On a two-lane road stay fairly close to the centre line so that other vehicles do not move into your lane space.
- On the inner lanes of a multi-lane road, drive in the centre of the lane.
- Avoid driving in others' blind spots.
- Maintain a safe following distance.
- Maintain a safe margin between your vehicle and other road users, the side of the road, road islands and other obstacles.
- Maintain good lane position.
- Keep an escape route if possible.
- Come to a stop in the correct position at intersections and curbs.
- Accurately judge the gap when you pull across or into traffic, so other road users don't have to slow down for you.
3. Speed Control -- keeping the right speed
An experienced driver maintains a safe speed, one that keeps up with the flow of traffic and is within the posted speed limit. A smart driver also slows down when faced with conditions such as rain, fog, snow, rough roads, night driving or children playing near the road. Your speed should be even -- avoid slowing down or speeding up unnecessarily.
Practice your braking skills. Make sure you decelerate smoothly, cover the brake when it looks as if you might need to stop and keep the brake fully applied when you are stopped. Don't stop unnecessarily; it may confuse other drivers or riders. Be certain your parking brake is fully engaged when you are parked and fully disengaged when your vehicle is moving.
Driving with a standard transmission
If you are driving a vehicle with a standard transmission, you need to be able to choose the appropriate gear and shift smoothly. Release the clutch smoothly when starting off. Don't coast in neutral or with your foot on the clutch. Apply the clutch only to change gears or just before stopping. will take extra care.
- Maintain appropriate speeds.
- Choose the appropriate gear and change gears smoothly.
- Accelerate and decelerate smoothly.
- Apply your brakes smoothly and safely.
- Use the parking brake correctly.
4. Steering -- moving smoothly
The key to good steering is smoothness, whether you are maintaining your lane position, turning in a smooth arc, or keeping a steady line as you back up. Reduce side-to-side movement and make sure your turns are gentle and smooth.
- Keep both hands on the wheel when possible.
- Avoid turning the wheel with only the palm of your hand.
- Steer smoothly.
- Keep your arm off the windowsill or armrest.
5. Communication -- sending and receiving signals
To share the road safely with other road users, you need to be able to communicate clearly. Watch for communication from others -- brake lights, turn signals, eye contact. Observe the clues other drivers give you. If a driver moves to the right, what does that tell you? Is that driver preparing to change lanes or turn?
Make sure you give clear signals to others. Always signal well in advance if you are about to change road position but keep in mind that if you signal too early -- or if you signal unnecessarily -- you may confuse other road users. Be aware of what your turn signal is doing. Has it cancelled too early, before you've actually made the turn or lane change? Make sure you re-apply it. Did it fail to cancel after you made your turn? Cancel it as soon as you complete the maneuver. See icbc.com for suggestions about good communication.
- Use turn signals clearly.
- Use hand signals if necessary to ensure that your signal is seen.
- Use your horn if necessary for safety.
- Watch for communication from other road users.
6. Hazard Perception -- reading the driving environment
Hazard perception is being able to identify things in the driving situation that could cause harm. For instance, a cyclist on the right side of your lane is a hazard. An alert driver will be quick to identify this situation as hazardous and will take extra care.
How will my hazard perception be tested?
At certain points during the test, the examiner will ask you to name the hazards you see. Identify all hazards that are within one block in front of you, immediately beside you and behind you. As soon as you see a hazard, say a few words to describe what you see. You might say, for example, pothole, truck turning left or car pulling out. Identify all the real hazards that you see, including yellow or orange signs that warn of danger or construction zones. Don't list things that are not really hazards, such as light poles or trees that do not block your vision. Identify all hazards by saying them out loud in English. If you don't know the English word for the hazard, you may briefly point at it.
What are hazards?
There are four types of hazards to watch for:
- Space Grabbers -- Anything that could move into your space is a hazard. An example is a driver quickly moving into a merge lane just in front of you. That driver wants to move into the space you expect to use.
- Surprises -- Be extra cautious when you are faced with unpredictable elements. Children playing on the side of the street could unexpectedly dash out in front of you. Conditions like wind or turbulence are unpredictable because you don't know exactly how your vehicle will respond.
- Vision Blockers -- Anything that obstructs your vision of other road users is a hazard. A large truck can hide animals or children who might enter your path.
- Poor Road Conditions -- Poor road surfaces can affect your traction and steering. For example, loose gravel or ice could cause you to lose control.
Some typical hazards
Poor Road Conditions
How can I practice hazard perception?
Work with a friend. Drive in a quiet area naming out loud any road users or situations you see ahead, beside or behind you that could be dangerous. Ask your friend to write down the words you say and put a checkmark beside the word if they agree or an X if they disagree. Ask them to write down any hazards you miss. After a few blocks, pull over to the side and talk about your answers.
To check your answers, ask yourself: Which of these are real hazards? Which are not? Decide if the thing you named was a space grabber, a surprise, a vision blocker or a poor road condition.
Keep doing this process, moving into more difficult driving environments, until you feel comfortable seeing and identifying hazards. Make sure you practice hazard perception at different kinds of intersections. Intersections are often dangerous because of the many hazards they may contain.
Worried about hazard perception?
Before you start the hazard perception part of the test, the examiner will give several examples of how to identify hazards. You are not required to give a lengthy description of a hazard. In fact, you can identify hazards with one or two words. You may want to use the Handy Words list to help you prepare for the test.
If you are worried about your English, consider translating the words for your first practice sessions and then start using the English words in later practices. Remember, you may point if you can't think of the right word.
In the Level 2 road test the examiner will direct you through a route that includes different driving environments. Along the way, you will be asked to perform several different maneuvers. In each maneuver, the examiner will mark how well you observe, maintain space margins, control your speed, steer and communicate.
Two of the maneuvers -- three-point turns and reverse stall parking -- must be performed within a reasonable time limit.
1. Intersections: driving through, turning right, turning left
The test route will include different types of intersections -- multi-lane intersections controlled by traffic lights, intersections controlled by stop signs and uncontrolled intersections. As you approach each intersection, the examiner may direct you to turn right or left. If the examiner doesn't tell you to turn, continue straight ahead as long as it is safe.
- Stop just before the stop line, crosswalk or intersection. After you have stopped, if your view is blocked, you may need to creep slowly ahead to see properly.
- Before you proceed:
- scan the entire intersection from left to right
- check both crosswalks you will drive through
- check to the left one more time before you go
- If you're turning right and the light is red, stop, wait for a safe gap and turn when it is safe.
- If yours is the first vehicle waiting to turn left on a green light, stop about one-quarter of the way into the intersection. Leave enough room so that your vehicle and an approaching vehicle can both turn smoothly. If your vehicle is the second in line, don't move into the intersection unless you can get the front of your vehicle well beyond the crosswalk, so that drivers in crossing vehicles can see you. Remember to maintain a safe following distance.
- When waiting at a railway crossing, stop at the stop line or at least five meters from the nearest rail.
- Keep your wheels straight while you're waiting to turn.
2. Changing lanes
Remember to observe, signal and choose a safe gap when you change lanes. Make sure you can complete the lane change well ahead of any intersections, crosswalks, hills or curves.
3. Entering or exiting a highway or freeway
Use precise observation and judgment skills whenever you enter a highway or freeway. You need to make quick decisions about how fast other vehicles are traveling and which gap is safe to move into. You also need to adjust your speed in the acceleration lane so that you can easily merge with the highway or freeway traffic.
Plan your exit so you can make the required lane changes safely. Review icbc.com, for practice information.
4. Making three-point turns
You need to observe constantly and be aware of space margins and steering when making a three-point turn. Before you start, make sure that you are in a location where you are visible to other road users and not close to traffic, pedestrians or intersections. Signal as you pull to the right side of the road. Position your vehicle so that it will stay clear of curbs or road edges. Keep at least 45 centimeters from other vehicles or objects. You should back up only once. For information to help you improve your three-point turns, review icbc.com.
5. Reverse stall parking
Remember to observe carefully and pay attention to space margins and steering when you back into a parking stall. Before you move backward, do a 360-degree vision check. Set up your backing position so that other vehicles can't move in behind you as you are backing in. If you are parking between two cars, you may need to start from an angle of about 45 degrees. Move into the centre of the stall and keep going until your vehicle is completely in the stall and out of traffic. When you're ready to move out of the stall, signal, then check whether it is safe by doing a mirror check and shoulder check in the direction you are planning to go.
6. General driving
General driving covers all the driving you do between intersections. It includes straight driving, hills and curves, highway and freeway driving.
At the end of your road test the examiner will spend 10 to 15 minutes explaining the results of your test. This can be a useful time for you. You can discuss the positive aspects of your driving and learn how to improve specific driving skills or maneuvers. Whether or not you pass your exam, there will be things you can learn to help you keep safe on the road.
If you are not successful, the examiner will give you pointers on how to prepare for your next test. You can take it after seven days. If you are not successful again, you must wait 14 days
- Feedback Tip
If you are uncomfortable speaking English, bring someone who can translate for you during the feedback session. However, during the road test, only you and the examiner can be in the vehicle.
You may feel that you need to brush up on your driving skills before taking the Level 2 Road test. Do you know the signs, rules and regulations? Are your driving maneuvers smooth, safe and performed correctly? Can you perceive hazards accurately? You might decide to take a refresher course at a driving school to polish your driving skills. New drivers receive a free copy of icbc.com when they enter the Graduated Licensing Program. Additional copies are available at your nearest ICBC driver licensing office for a $5 fee. Copies of the Safe Driving Guide are available free of charge at all ICBC licensing offices.
- Book your appointment by phoning the ICBC driver licensing office nearest you or by going into the office and booking an appointment in person. (If you live in the Lower Mainland, phone the central booking number: 661-2255.)
- The test will take about an hour, including the feedback session, and you should plan to arrive at least 10 minutes early.
- Bring your Class 7 license and a piece of valid identification. (See the Safe Driving Guide, page 68.)
- Your vehicle must meet safety standards and be properly insured in order for you to take the test.
- Bring your vehicle registration and test fee with you.
For more information...
For more information on Graduated Licensing call:
- 978-8300 in Greater Victoria
- 1-800-950-1498 toll free throughout British Columbia
Just about everyone who drives has had at least one bad experience on the road.
Young teenage drivers are extremely dangerous on the roads and have horrendous safety records when compared to other age groups.
For me, it was when I was 17. I had just received my full license, and one day, in my infinite wisdom, I ripped off one of the side-view mirrors as I backed out of the garage. When my parents came out hollering and asked what I had done, I embarrassingly replied - if this is the worst thing I'm going to do while a young driver, count your blessings. Although it may have sounded a big smug at the time, a troubling study released in March 2000 confirms my point.
The Journal of the American Medical Association recently reported that young teenage drivers are extremely dangerous on the roads and have horrendous safety records when compared to other age groups.
The findings are from a study by Johns Hopkins University's School of Public Health, which found that drivers aged 16 and 17 get into fatal car accidents three times as often when their cars are full of passengers than when they are driving alone.
Although it is probably not entirely surprising to learn that people in this age group get into more accidents, the fact that the rate is three times as high is startling.
The data broke down as follows: the death rate for 16-year-old drivers is about two per one million trips with no passengers, 2.76 with one passenger, 3.69 with two passengers, and 5.61 with three or more passengers. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among North American teenagers.
Interestingly, the study found that 30- 59-year-old drivers have decreased death rates when they are in a car with passengers as opposed to when they drive alone.
The reasons for the much higher fatality rates when young people are in full cars are not certain, although the study did find a correlation between all forms of dangerous driving by young people (driving after drinking alcohol or using drugs, speeding, swerving, crossing the center line, purposely skidding, and running a red light) and the presence of peers in the car.
The results of the study demonstrate clearly that this is a problem that must be addressed, and soon. There could be many reasons for the discrepancies between the age groups; among them, general lack of experience on the road for younger drivers, and general stupidity and carelessness.
Although it may be difficult or impossible to prevent the latter, the report does make a recommendation that could curb the former a system of graduated licensing.
Adopted in some U.S. states already and by the government of Ontario, Canada in 1994, graduated licensing schemes force young drivers to go through different stages of licensing before earning a full drivers license - they must first earn a beginner's permit, followed by an intermediate license and then a full license.
In Ontario, the system is fairly straightforward. After a written test, young drivers can drive a car as long as they are accompanied by an adult with at least five years driving experience.
If they take a driver education course, they are eligible to take a road test after eight months. If they then pass a road test, for the next year they can drive alone as long as they have a blood-alcohol level of zero and have no more people in the car than there are seatbelts at all times. After a year of driving under these rules, young drivers can take a second road test for a full, unrestricted license.
The Ontario experience has been an immense success since its inception, so it's no wonder the Johns Hopkins study recommends adopting a similar program everywhere south of the border.
When it first came out in Ontario, young people were truculently opposed to it because it toughened the licensing process a great deal. But after going through as one of the first people in the first wave of the new graduated system, I'm now glad that I did. The program's successes speak for themselves.
As reported by the Ministry of Transportation, collision rates for young drivers in Ontario are down over 30% since 1994. Alcohol was a factor in 27% fewer collisions.
It is estimated that the cost savings to society after factoring in savings in property damage, emergency response and medical care, lost future earnings, and other factors is approximately $60 million in just 18 months.
Graduated licensing schemes are a great improvement on the old licensing systems - they are saving lives. The statistics in comparison to non-graduated licensing jurisdictions are staggering.
It would make absolute sense to legislate graduated licensing programs everywhere as soon as possible.