PHILIPSBURG–A group of driving instructors called a press conference on Tuesday evening to call on government to immediately put a hold on the implementation of the new digitalised driver’s licence exam, which is set for a full launch on September 2.
The new digitised exam has many defects that should be rectified before its implementation, according to the group of instructors. While government’s Driving Exams Department (DED) has assured that the exam has no increased cost for applicants, the driving instructors maintain the exam sets up students for failure, which would force them to attempt the exam multiple times and expend additional funds.
They said the exam has many trick questions for which more than one of the multiple-choice answers can be considered correct.
The instructors also said that no teaching materials are available or have been provided for the new exam.
Additionally, the wording of the questions is “not based on traffic knowledge, but based on academic language,” said one driving instructor. “This exam is not for the average person.”
The high pass mark was also deemed unacceptable by the driving instructors, noting that one would need to score 25 out of a maximum 30 points to be successful in the new driving exam. In fact, they said out of the six of them present at the press briefing, representing a combined 115 years of teaching experience, none of them had passed the digitised test.
“The digital system is not prepared by persons who have the methodology [or – Ed.] experience for developing driving exams for St. Maarten … neither with the driving laws of St. Maarten in mind,” said the driving instructors in a prepared statement.
When asked what they would like to see done about the situation, the driving instructors said their immediate concern was to delay the implementation of the new driving exam. While they are not opposed to progress, they would like to have input in the implementation of the digitalised driving exam, they said. They also want government to retain a non-digitised choice to give students the opportunity to decide between the digital and manual test.
Moreover, they want students to have the ability to be tested in either standard or automatic transmission vehicles, because “nowhere in the law does it say it [the driving exam] has to be in standard.”
The driving instructors said their follow-up step is to request a meeting with the Inspectorate of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) on the issue.
They are not the first to criticise the implementation of the digitised driving exam. The Consumers Coalition raised some of the same points as the driving instructors in a press conference on August 15, also requesting a meeting with TEATT’s Inspectorate. This meeting took place on August 19 and the Inspectorate denied the Coalition’s request to postpone the digitised driving exam.
However, the Inspectorate said it was willing to accommodate students who have signed up for an examination date to become familiarised with the new examination system and to allow students to take a practice examination. The Inspectorate also said during that meeting that providing course materials for the exam was the responsibility of driving schools.