ADOT unveils new driving school program

photo of the writer of this opinion Joshua Bowling
Joshua Bowling
Mesa Legend

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has unveiled a new program which – upon completion – awards students with a driver’s license, without requiring written or road tests.  In the past, ADOT programs were in place for high school and private school students. Those who underwent the classes through the ADOT-certified high school or private school classes would receive their driver’s license upon completion.  Now, however, ADOT has partnered with private-sector driving schools to enact a similar program.

The program was enacted on Jan. 12, and has been in the works since November, according to Ryan Harding, a public information officer for ADOT.  “We wanted to offer another option for new drivers to get training … our top priority is safety,” Harding said.  Traditionally, one would go to the Motor Vehicle Department and take a written test for their driver’s permit and a road test for the driver’s license. A passing score on both would result in the issue of their license.

cartoon of two lanes of traffic. one lane is labeled Reckless Drivers only and shows a bad traffic accident. the second lane is is labeled safer route and show smooth traffic.
Illustration by Sebastian Miguel

The idea behind this new program, Harding said, is to ensure safety and safe driving practices are taught to students.  “We want to encourage new drivers to get as much professional instruction as they can, if they choose to,” Harding said.  Not having to take a written or road test provides a good incentive, according to Harding, for students to successfully complete driving school.

Moving into the future, the question of the new program’s popularity arises. Will this become something that is used as mainstream as the traditional method of obtaining a license?  According to Harding, this program is not mandatory, and is only introduced as a new way for citizens to obtain their license.  The program’s popularity and merit remain to be seen.

MCC student, Levi Castillo, said the written and road tests should remain mandatory.  “I think they should keep the test, not just the road test, because it gives you more information.”  Technical details are taught through the written test, he said. “Like, I didn’t know how far away to park from a fire hydrant.”  Ultimately, Castillo said, the written and road tests arm the student with more knowledge before they hit the road.

Dobson High School, Red Mountain High School, and several other high schools in Mesa are participating in the existing high-school program, according to ADOT.  The new partnership with private-sector driving schools has extended to 50 schools statewide, Harding said.


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