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Traffic Talk: Oklahoma driving instructors now can give driving exams

Don Gammill: Adding instructors as examiners should help driver test crunch in Oklahoma
By DON GAMMILL, The Oklahoman Published: November 26, 2012

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.”

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