Maryland drivers test is not reliable way to test new drivers

A+student+prepares+for+their+drivers+test+by+practicing+parking+skills.

Photo used with permission from Google Commons

A student prepares for their driver’s test by practicing parking skills.

During the summer of 2020, Maryland changed its driving test due to Covid. Now the driving test does not have a driving instructor inside the vehicle testing you on driving ability. Only parking is assessed.Over the past year, Maryland’s MVA has been considering changing the driver’s test back to normal but with the unpredictability of Covid cases, the MVA has chosen to stick with the Covid test. With the test having no correlation to driving skills, is this the best decision?

The Maryland drivers test consists of three basic parking techniques: forward parking, reverse parking and a three-point turn. Although parking is an important skill to have, it is not the number one concern with new drivers. For parking, 20% of all reported vehicle accidents happen in parking lots and few result in serious injury or death. On the other hand, there are about 5.25 million accidents on main roads and highways a year, which is about one accident every minute, resulting in about 39,000 deaths and 3.5 million injuries. Although the driver’s test will help the accidents go down in parking lots, it will not focus on-road driving where most casualties happen. “Since the parking lot accidents result in the least amount of casualties and are less common, I think it would make more sense to focus on the parts at driving that result in more accidents so that new drivers can learn early and not make the mistakes,” junior Saurav Khetan said.

I think the new drivers test does not make sure new drivers have the skills to be on everyday roads and can be very dangerous for someone to get their license when they are very inexperienced on the road.”

— Colin Grange

The most important part of driving is being able to handle the car and being aware of your surroundings. The current drivers test does not make sure new drivers know how to drive in normal situations like highways or main roads. “I think the new drivers test does not make sure new drivers have the skills to be on everyday roads and can be very dangerous for someone to get their license when they are very inexperienced on the road,” junior Colin Grange said.

According to Maryland MVA, on average nearly 100,000 car accidents occur every year in the state, with car accidents being the leading cause of death for teens above the age of 15. The numbers will start increasing in the state of Maryland when more teens come on the roads being inexperienced. The test might be a fast and easy way for excited teens and parents to get a driver’s license, but letting an unprepared driver onto the road too early can endanger the driver and people around them.

Although the new Maryland MVA test helps keep their employees and drivers safe from Covid-19, it will not ensure the driver’s safety on the road. Adding an in-car drivers test will help let MVA employees know if a new driver is ready to be driving and force drivers to practice road driving.