B.C.’s Attorney General David Eby announced Monday that ICBC road tests for non-commercial drivers will resume on July 20 after the pandemic put them on hold for four months.

Eby said about 55,000 non-commercial appointments had been cancelled since COVID-19 health measures went into effect back on March 17, but wouldn’t estimate how long it might take to clear the backlog.

"My advice to drivers," Eby said, "be ready for the test. If you fail that test, you will have a significant wait."

Statistics from ICBC show examiners conducted roughly 20,800 road tests every month in B.C. in 2019, with an average of 9,500 Class 5 tests (full license), and 8,890 Class 7 tests (novice) monthly.

Eby said drivers who had their exams cancelled in March would receive a call this week from ICBC and will be first in the queue, followed by those who had appointments slotted for April, May, June and July.

ICBC is also looking into hiring additional examiners and opening more road testing locations, Eby said, because the current roster of 188 driver examiners will now be able to complete fewer exams a day.

Eby said examiners will be required to wear medical-grade masks, face shields or goggles and gloves, and he estimated each examiner would conduct seven road tests per shift, down from nine.

Drivers will also be required to wear medical-grade masks which will provided by ICBC.

ICBC will also be launching a new online appointment booking system and a new call centre, Eby said, to deal with road tests, as of July 20.

While Steve Wallace, the longtime owner and operator of Wallace’s Driving School in Victoria, welcomed the restart, he also expressed concern over uncertainty for his students because of a backlog he estimates it could take four or five months to clear.

"The competition for test times is going to be absolutely horrendous," Wallace said, adding that he plans to have three or four staff on the phone and online on July 20 doing their best to book appointments for more than 100 new drivers still waiting for tests.

Wallace Driving School also wrote to the Province in June proposing it allow students who complete an Approved Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) course to be issued a Class 7 license (N) without a road test.

"Why don’t you simply authorize them, say they’ve met the criteria and issue the license, and then test them on the Class 5 (full license) section 18 months from now," Wallace said, adding it would free up appointments for others.

Commercial road tests resumed last month and Eby said Monday that backlog has been "cleared."