A pilot program in Beaufort that urges drivers license applicants to make an appointment for road tests worked so well this summer that the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles is adopting it statewide.The policy, tested at 12 offices from June until September, greatly reduces the times walk-in road tests will be offered. At offices where the pilot was adopted, long lines were avoided because employees could better plan one of the most time-consuming tasks the department offers, according to spokeswoman Beth Parks.
Appointments can be made from 8:30 to 11 a.m. for a road test between 2 and 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
While the department didn't compile statistics on the average wait in line, the program was deemed successful based on positive comments, especially from parents, DMV officials said. The policy was adopted for all offices Sept. 18.
"The reason we put it in afternoons is because it's when kids are out of school," Parks said. "We still got a lot of walk-ins in the beginning, but once people understood, it made things much easier."
Walk-ins are still accepted in the mornings, but customers risk a longer wait. Drivers without an appointment can also try their luck in the afternoon, but will only be penciled in if there are openings.
Aspiring drivers also have the option of taking the written and road tests with a private instructor. Another policy announced Tuesday allows individuals, driving schools and high schools to take a certification program to administer the tests.
PREPARE, STAY SAFE
Nervous about taking the written exam? There's an app for that.
The department now has an application for Apple products and Android phones that quizzes users with 15 to 20 multiple-choice questions at a time. The free app can be found by searching "SC DMV" on websites that sell applications.
"They're the same questions that you would see on the test," Parks said. "The questions are randomly drawn from a pool of about 200 questions."
New department technology also allows drivers to electronically enter emergency-contact information for law enforcement use in the event of a crash or a medical problem that leaves a driver unable to communicate, Parks said.
"Law enforcement can look up emergency contact information when they take a drivers license," Parks said. "Normally they would only have access to an address."
Emergency contacts can be entered on the DMV website.