JACKSON, Miss. (WTVO) – New drivers looking to get their license in Mississippi will no loner be required to take a road test.
The road test has not been a part of getting a license in the state for over a year now, due to social distancing and COVID-19 concerns. Mississippi’s Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell said that now, the test will not be coming back at all, concerning more experienced drivers, according to WLBT.
“I had to take the [road] test in order to get my license. Just because you know how to read and write through a test doesn’t mean you know how to drive,” said Jackson resident Ariana Thompson. “People on the road, they have to drive for other people. You have to think about yourself and other people, too.”
Tindell said that he understands the concern, though the road test has been reduced in the state recently, even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The road test at the time basically consisted of driving around the parking lot and parking the vehicle. And so the reality is, it wasn’t as extensive a road test as it once was,” Tindell said. “Maybe a more effective way in determining whether or not somebody is a good driver is getting information from the people that are actually driving with them.”
New drivers in the state are required to have a learner’s permit for a year, with a parent or guardian stating that they had ridden with them for 50 hours, before they are allowed to receive their driver’s license.
The change was approved by the Mississippi Legislature during the extended 2020 regular session, and reportedly is meant to encourage parents to be more engaged in their children’s driving habits and instruction.
Tindell said he believes it would be more appropriate to mandate driver education classes in schools, instead of having to take a road test. Driver’s education has already been an elective in Mississippi schools since 1962, according to Mississippi Department of Education spokesperson Jean Cook.
“Legislation would be needed to mandate and fully fund a statewide driver education program,” Cook said.