One of the things that most people need to do when they move to British Columbia is to take their driving test – again. You might be lucky enough to be coming from one of the countries that are allowed to exchange their licences (currently U.S., Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Japan or South Korea) – but otherwise you need to take a test within 90 days of being resident in B.C.
The clock starts ticking when you are living here, which may not be the same as when you “land”. But it is important to get your licence in the 90 days. I don’t know what would happen if you were found not to have a valid licence, but I doubt it would be good.
No one wants to go through the whole licensing process when they have already been driving for years. Let’s face it, if you are like me, you have probably picked up a few bad habits. More importantly driving here is probably different in a number of ways.
Your first part of the process is passing the knowledge test. This is a good thing as you can find out about the traffic signs. A stop sign is pretty obvious. But what about a 4-way stop? Not something I had seen before. And one that catches a lot of people out at first. (I like them now).
There are other things that you will notice, like being able to go through a red light when turning right. But there are other things which are not obvious from reading the manual or perhaps from your past experience. For instance how do you position yourself when waiting to turn left at a junction? (Don’t turn your wheels before you are ready to make the turn).
For all these subtle things I recommend getting a lesson or two. It will pay off in terms of finding out all these little details and especially in getting to know the driving test route. Your instructor will take you around the driving test route and you will learn where the school zones are. One friend failed his test because he sped through all of the school zones – there was a kind of magnificence in that!
Lessons, staying calm, driving slowly (but not too slowly) and showing your attention to safety will see you passing your test. You may then return to your old way of driving. In my case I have lost my “London driver” mode and have got used to the slower pace of traffic, and life. I probably would never cope in London now!