Road test for new Mississippi driver’s license will not be reinstated, agency says


JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – While young drivers haven’t had to worry about one of the most agonizing aspects of getting a driver’s license – the driving test – for over a year now , the omission concerns more experienced motorists.

“It’s hard for that kid to go out there and gain experience and really try to learn what to do in a situation where he can’t get out of it”, said truck driver Donald Hartwell. “It’s easy to put yourself in a situation; it’s easier for a child to get killed.

Hartwell knows all too well the mistakes pilots make right in front of him.

He said that last year some teens didn’t notice a one-way sign while driving, found themselves in the middle of a busy highway and pulled over, unsure of what to do.

“[That’s] all because your mind isn’t ready to think, and you have to think fast because your life depends on it, ”Hartwell said.

Jackson resident Ariana Thompson said she didn’t think removing the road test from license requirements was a good idea.

“I had to take the [road] test to get my license. Just because you can read and write on a test doesn’t mean you can drive, ”said Thompson. “People on the road, they have to drive for others. You also have to think about yourself and others. “

Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell said he understands these concerns, although part of the reasoning behind dropping the test drive stems from social distancing and coronavirus concerns.

Tindell also said the test drive has been drastically reduced in recent years.

“The test drive at the time basically consisted of walking around the parking lot and parking the vehicle. And so the reality is, it wasn’t as thorough a test drive as it used to be, ”Tindell said. “Perhaps a more effective way to determine if someone is a good driver is to get information from the people who are actually driving with them.”

Tindell said the state requires a learner’s license for a full year and an affidavit from a parent or guardian that they rode with the youngster for 50 hours before they could get a new license. .

These changes, which the Mississippi legislature approved in the 2020 extended regular session, encourage parents to become more involved in their child’s education and driving habits.

Although Tindell has said the road test will not return, he believes it would be more appropriate to require driving lessons in schools again.

According to Mississippi Department of Education spokesperson Jean Cook, driver education has been an elective course in Mississippi schools since 1962.

“Legislation would be needed to fully mandate and fund a statewide driver education program,” Cook said.

In the meantime, Hartwell believes in the responsibility of making sure safe drivers start at home.

“We cannot depend on the government, no one is doing our job. Mom [and] Dad, it’s your job to make sure your kid is there to do what they’re supposed to do. If you don’t do your part, how are others going to do it? Hartwell said.

Copyright 2021 WLBT. All rights reserved.

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