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

Click to play video 'Metro Vancouverites going to great lengths to beat long waits for drivers’ tests' Metro Vancouverites going to great lengths to beat long waits for drivers’ tests
Metro Vancouverites going to great lengths to beat long waits for drivers' tests

Breanna Wheeler’s 17-year-old son is going to get plenty of driving practice on his way to a road test next month.

The Wheelers are packing up for an overnight trip and will drive more than 800 kilometres from Langley to Cranbrook in order to get a timely test booking.

The family had tried to get a booking closer to home when ICBC resumed road test bookings on Monday, but couldn’t find one in Metro Vancouver before January.

Read more: Frustrated would-be drivers struggle to book ICBC road tests, face months-long backlog

“My husband thinks I’m crazy, he thinks I’m absolutely nuts (but) moms do whatever they have to do for their kids,” she said.

“We have six kids, we have jobs, (my son) has a job, they play hockey … we rely on having that extra body with a licence that now might not be happening.”

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Wheeler said she decided to take the Cranbrook availability out of fear a second wave of COVID-19 could prompt the province to shut down government services again, leaving her son without a licence for an unknown period of time.

Click to play video 'Huge delays for ICBC road tests' Huge delays for ICBC road tests
Huge delays for ICBC road tests

The Wheelers aren’t the only ones packing up the family car to take a road test further afield.

Constance Hedd told Global News she’ll be heading to Kelowna in October so that her daughter can take her road test.

The family lives in South Langley and Hedd says the nearest bus stop is five kilometres from their home.

“My husband and I have to drive her to and from work five days a week, she’s put off going to post-secondary this fall because she can’t get to school,” said Hedd.

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Hedd’s daughter was allowed to seek a booking on Aug. 17, earlier than most other applicants, because she already had a test booked when ICBC cancelled tests due to the pandemic back in March.

The earliest booking she could find in Metro Vancouver was in November, she said.

Read more: ICBC suspends road tests in bid to curb spread of novel coronavirus

But Hebb’s daughter’s learner’s licence will expire before then, meaning she’d have to re-book and retake her learner’s knowledge test in order to be able to book the road test.

“I don’t understand why they can’t do an extension on the learner’s test,” she said.

“Now you have all of these people who for the last six months, who have had their (learner’s licences) expire, they now have to go back and redo their tests which is going to add to the backlog.”

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Growing number of missing ICBC insurance decals

ICBC says about 32,000 people have booked Class 5 or Class 7 road tests since scheduling resumed on Monday, about two thirds of them in the Lower Mainland.

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But the Crown corporation says just 0.2 per cent of is Lower Mainland customers book in small communities outside the region.

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

“We are increasing capacity to support road tests in the Lower Mainland, with additional locations and examiners,” said an ICBC spokesperson in an email.

“This should reduce the number of customers travelling to more remote locations.”

The province has added 100 new driver examiners and set up several temporary road testing locations in the Lower Mainland.

ICBC recommends people check its online system regularly, as cancellations could mean spaces open up earlier than expected.

-With files from Aaron McArthur