Oklahomans can reserve rental cars or museum tickets in Europe weeks before they arrive. They can reserve priority places in ride lines at theme parks in the United States, or hotel rooms in Hong Kong. What they can't reserve is a guaranteed slot for a driver's license test.
When debate broke out in 2000 on whether the state should supply driving manuals and written exams in Spanish, the argument was made that it was better to pay for those rather than risk having Spanish-only speakers break the law because they couldn't read English. The same can be said today: If it's so hard to get a driver's license exam, how many will drive without a license?
The Oklahoman's Zeke Campfield reported on the disgrace that the state driver's licensing system has become. Applicants are arriving at exam stations in the middle of the night to camp out for a coveted place in line. They can't reserve a time with a phone call. This isn't a Black Friday doorbuster sale on the day after Thanksgiving. It's every day that the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety offers exams.
The problem, of course, is money. The state doesn't have enough examiners. It doesn't pay enough to attract examiners when positions come open. We suspect the same would be true if car tags and driver's license renewals were handled solely by the state instead of private contractors.
Teenagers have a big stake in this problem because they're getting a license for the first time. The state has been steadily restricting young drivers with graduated licensing requirements and texting bans, but it's failing them in providing a reliable, convenient way of getting a driving exam.
When the Oklahoma Tax Commission had difficultly getting refunds to taxpayers years ago, the state found a way to fix the problem. It needs to find a way to fix this one.