Local News

DMV accelerating no-contact road tests for young drivers

Posted February 22, 2021 8:03 p.m. EST

— After months of delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the state Division of Motor Vehicles is ramping up a new way of conducting road tests for young drivers.

Rather than have DMV staff in the car with a driver trying to negotiate traffic and parallel park, the agency has developed a no-contact "road test" that takes place in parking lots. The DMV staffer stays outside the vehicle, giving the driver directions to follow, and the parking lot is set up with traffic signs the driver must navigate.

"I was a lot more nervous about this one because I didn’t know what it would be like. It was definitely different than what I expected it to be," said Matthew Stutts, who passed his road test on Monday. "They had me do a three-point turn. Then, they had me back up in a straight line and then do a safety stop."

"The only difference is it’s a much shorter test than what a road test would be, and they’re not out in regular traffic," DMV spokesman Steve Abbott said.

Lawmakers waived an earlier road test requirement for beginning student drivers last year, but by law, young drivers still need to pass at least one road test to get their full license. The DMV has been offering some road tests since October, but it's been extremely limited because of the pandemic.

Abbott said the agency recently doubled the number of instructors and locations for the new test. He said he expects to see higher demand for the road tests as more schools reopen.

"People have to have patience. You’re not going to call or contact us on Monday and get a test Tuesday," he said. "Depending on the location, it could be a week to four weeks."

Stutts said he’s been eligible for the road test since January, but it took some time to get an appointment.

Last week, a state Senate committee approved a bill to accept road tests given by outside vendors as well as the DMV. That proposal still has a number of steps before possibly becoming law.

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