Last week Transportation Minister Ric McIver announced that driver road tests for Class 4, 5, and 6 licenses will return to a private model. After changing to a provincial model under the NDP government, the UCP will be returning to a private model that was used for many years in order to alleviate wait times.
The Cochrane Driving Academy provides driver training for students to prepare them for the driver road test. Debra Sherwood with the academy says they and their students will welcome the change back to the way it was. "Going from private examiners to government examiners, it reduced the pool of examiners and they were being spread out all over the region. That meant we didn't have as many tests offered. Unfortunately, the COVID came along and there was a big shut down of four or five months which just increased it and made a massive backlog."
Sherwood says that it has been difficult for their business as well, "Having to prioritize students that sometimes by fluke manage to get a cancellation of a test in the middle of their driving course. Some of them finish their driving course and can't get a test for months so then obviously we trying to arrange for them to brush up on lessons before their test. Others are getting their tests in the middle of their driving course and we are having to constantly reshuffle people's lessons to try and accommodate people as a priority with a test."
Sherwood also points out that for some students it is a necessity to get their license whether it is for work or school it's not just a right of passage. "We have heard stories of our students desperate to get tests and widening their search when they are trying to book on test centres and we have had students that have actually gone to Whitecourt and Lethbridge to actually take their road test."
It is with great hope that changing back to the way things used to be will somehow help get the system operating efficiently again. Cochranites and all Albertans will be able to book road tests directly with local registry agents or through a new online system starting December 1st with tests commencing after January 5, 2021.
It may take a while to reduce the backlog but hopefully, things will be back on track or on the road soon.