Long road ahead for Albertans waiting for driver's licence tests
CALGARY -- There seems to be a long road ahead for Albertans waiting to get their driver’s licences.
Alberta Transportation suspended most road tests on March 20 due to COVID-19 and resumed regular testing again June 30, but backlogs and limited spaces mean many people still cannot schedule a test.
“I’ve been checking daily since the beginning of June,” said 16 year-old Ellie Nyairo.
Alberta Transportation says prior to the pandemic, an average of 16,000 road tests were done each month.
In June there were 2,539 road tests and in July that number was 13,112.
The province gave no timeline for when it could fill the backlog.
Ellie’s mother, who is also her employer, understands the pandemic caused backlogs but said the lack of clarity with the booking system is leaving more than one of her workers in limbo.
“There’s absolutely no messaging that tells you when the tests will open,” said Evelyne Nyairo founder of Ellie Bianca skincare.
Cheska Castro worries that without a chance to try for her licence she cannot perform pick-ups and deliveries for her job at Ellie Bianca.
“I feel almost useless,” said Castro.
“I could be waiting until October or I could be waiting until I don’t know ... next year.”
Alberta Transportation said it continues to add road tests each week in order to meet demand.
Both Nyairo and Castro said despite daily attempts to book road tests, all available spots for August and September are taken and there is no ability to book beyond those months.
“There’s no timeline of when October will be open or when more road tests can be booked,” said Ellie.
“It’s pretty frustrating because it limits how far I can go and what I can do.”
The women hope the province will consider adding a waitlist system to alleviate some frustration.
“Help people to plan better,” said Evelyne.
To prevent the potential spread of COVID-19, new protocols for road tests include the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for both the driver and examiner.
Drivers are responsible for providing their own PPE, as well as disinfectant wipes to sanitize their vehicles.
Each road test is expected to take half an hour longer than normal in order to properly follow these procedures.