A new law allowing instructors at driver's education schools in Oklahoma to give the driving exam may be a big help. It won't be without its critics. No new law is, it seems. But give it some time.
House Bill 2367, which took effect Nov. 1, may be just the right medicine to help an ailing program, made sick by budget cuts. If all goes as intended, this law should give our state a boost in training and licensing new drivers and cut down on some frustrations for those who have found themselves in long lines at, or having to make return trips to, the exam centers.
We've all heard the horror stories about young people and other prospective drivers waiting for hours to take the driving exam because the state Public Safety Department didn't have enough examiners to handle the load — due to reduction in numbers of examiners through money cuts.
With limited numbers of workers, in turn the number of tests that could be administered were cut. I recall one story about a young lady who three times showed up at an exam center to take a driving test, waited in a long line, then made it to or near the door before being told there wouldn't be an opportunity that day.
Meanwhile, she had become late for school or late for work, another frustration. Opportunities for such individuals should be better now.
A major concern through the years for using driving instructors to handle the testing has been potential favoritism. Would instructors favor their students, those who paid them large fees to learn to drive?
Consider this. Isn't it more likely that these instructors are going to be more aware of the abilities or shortcomings of potential new drivers, thereby watching closely before allowing an unprepared driver to be licensed?
If the training is appropriate and of good quality, the results should be as well.
That's certainly no slam at our DPS examiners, but rather an added advantage of the new system.
As stated in a recent editorial in The Oklahoman, the instructors, “don't stand to gain from licensing boys and girls who really aren't prepared to drive.”
It just could be that we'll see improvements in the type of drivers we have on our roadways. No one should be opposed to that.
By the way ...
City streets are becoming more bike-friendly with expanded “sharrow lanes”
The first of more than 200 miles of bike routes, including shared lanes or “sharrow” bike lanes, are being installed in Oklahoma City.
The sharrows are pavement markings which, along with new signage marking the routes, remind motorists to share the road with bicyclists and convey that the street is a preferred bike route. They are different from bike lanes because they do not allocate space just for the cyclist.
Signs saying “bicycle may use full lane” will be posted along routes.
The word sharrow is a combination of the words “share” and “arrow.” The marking consists of a bicycle symbol with two arrows above.
The city's bike routes are being implemented in phases. Major streets included in the first phase include Eastern Avenue, S Villa Avenue and the Interstate 235 and Interstate 35 service roads north of NE 63. Downtown streets are also in the first phase.
“Sharrows are being installed on streets like Hefner Road and NW 19th Street that are popular with bicyclists, but are too narrow for conventional bike lanes,” said transportation planner Randall Entz. “When they are installed downtown as a part of Project 180 renovations, they will also help to keep cyclist out of the door swing zones of parked cars.”
The first phase of the project, which is funded through the 2007 GO Bond and state Transportation Department Enhancement Funds, is expected to cost $362,000 to install.
“Although we are designating bike routes and sharrow lanes, cyclists can still ride on any Oklahoma City street,” Entz added.
Enjoy your week and drive safely.