For decades, getting your driver’s license was a rite of passage for teens. It was seen as one of the first big milestones in a teenager’s life. But with social distancing in effect, Wisconsin and many other states across the country have decided to allow teens to waive the driver’s test.
As long as one can prove they passed the necessary 30 hours of lessons, completed at least 30 hours of practice with a licensed guardian, and had 6 hours of observed driving, they could skip the driver’s test altogether.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. Some states in the Midwest, like Iowa and Nebraska, have had road test waivers in effect for years before the pandemic. Analysts have been monitoring car crash rates over the years where the waivers have been implemented and have noticed no significant increase in accidents.
Sophomore Addy Nysse is one of the many teens choosing to waive the test. “One reason I decided to waive it was obviously for safety reasons.” Nysse said. “I also know that I can get really overwhelmed in stressful situations and knew it would probably affect my driving.” Young drivers still have the option to take the traditional road test, but many are opting to utilize the waiver.
“I do think there could be negative effects such as bad drivers applying for waivers and being dangerous on the road as well as not having their driving abilities assessed.” Nysse said. Not having to deal with the stress of taking a road test is probably a leading motivator for teens to waive it, but many still acknowledge the potentially harmful effects of this shortcut.
The road test was officially instituted in the United States in 1959 and has seen minor changes over the years. But times have changed and the pandemic has forced their hand, the DOT has come to realize that maybe the road test isn’t as necessary as they’ve always thought.
The success of the road test waiver programs from these states and more are what Wisconsin Department Of Transportation officials are looking for when making decisions about whether to permanently keep the waiver. For the meantime, Wisconsin teens can still take advantage of this program as the cutoff has been extended until late March.