LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) –Since PennDOT reopened testing centers during the pandemic, examiners are no longer in the car during driver’s license tests. PennDOT says it’s confident that the modified license test does accurately show a driver’s abilities, but some parents disagree.
“It wasn’t a real test of driving skills,” said David Anderson of Palymra.
When Anderson brought his daughter to take her driving test, he was shocked by what he saw.
“The modification comes down to having the examiner outside of the vehicle,” said Diego Sandino, a community relations coordinator at PennDOT.
Examiners stand outside of vehicles in order to maintain social distancing, tell drivers what to do and observe from afar.
The tests are often given in parking lots, and no longer involve going into traffic.
You still have to parallel park, but Anderson says the test is no longer comprehensive.
“Demonstrating that you can use the turn signals, the headlights and the horn, and driving up to the stops sign, turning and driving around a pylon,” Anderson said about what he saw.
Meanwhile, PennDOT says the modifications are necessary and the scoring guidelines are the same.
“Other states have implemented similar modified skills tests and the testing is effective in maintaining the safety of the examiners and customers while keeping the integrity of the test,” said Sandino.
Paperwork is done in advance, so drivers only go inside a building if they pass, to get their photo taken.
Anderson’s daughter passed, and he trusts she will be fine on the roads because he had her go through driving school. He says his main concern is, “other drivers will pass and not be competent at controlling their vehicles.”
The state says the fail rate for June of 2020, with the modified test, was 26%.
The fail rate for June of 2019, with the standard test, was 38%.
“The applicant must operate the vehicle just as if they were operating the vehicle on public roadways,” said Sandino
“I would get in with masks, disinfectant and wipe it down,” said Anderson.
PennDOT says it plans on using this version of the test for the foreseeable future.
It asks people schedule their tests in advance using its website.