Recent experiments in better customer service at the Department of Motor Vehicles by all accounts have proved successful.
Appointments for driving tests, a pilot project at the Beaufort office and 11 other offices, worked so well this summer that the policy was expanded in September to all DMV offices. Driver's license applicants can make appointments between 8:30 and 11 a.m. for road tests given between 2 and 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Walk-ins are still welcome in the morning, but you risk a longer wait.
Now the department is building on that success with a program to offer applicants the option of taking the written and road tests with a private instructor. Individuals and driving school and high school instructors can get certified to administer the tests. If students pass, they take their test certification to a DMV office where they are photographed and issued a license.
The benefits: No trip to the DMV and nervous students might be more at ease with a teacher they're familiar with.
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A red flag the change raises is that people paid to teach driving skills also get to grade their students -- and their own work. The old system has a third party rating the efficacy of the instruction.
But the DMV has taken that into account. The program stipulates that a student could be randomly selected to re-take the test with a DMV agent to check the quality of private instruction. If that is found to be sub-par, the instructor's certification and the driver's certification could be suspended. This should work as long as the DMV is diligent about the follow-up.
It's important to note that the private testing program already existed for commercial drivers and motorcycle licenses.
And for those who find that the written test trips them up, there's now an app for that. DMV has an app that quizzes users with 15 to 20 multiple-choice questions at a time. The questions are randomly drawn from a pool of about 200 questions, agency spokesman Beth Parks said.
You can download a free version by searching for "SC DMV" on websites that sell applications.
DMV's push for convenience for its customers is a very welcome change from the old days. Keep the ideas coming.