Driving skills test held inside LTO compound in Davao

Edmund Arocha, LTO Central Boulevard District Office officer-in-charge, told MindaNews Thursday they decided to hold the tests inside the compound for safety consideration. Besides, he said, the LTO has no driving range.

In the past, an LTO driver skills examiner would accompany a driver's license applicant for a test drive using the city's streets.

But LTO officials said the scheme has been found too risky for both the new driver and the examiner. It has also caused traffic congestion in this premier city of Mindanao, especially now that Bangkerohan Bridge has been closed to traffic for reconstruction.

Arocha said LTO should have driving ranges and vehicles to facilitate different levels of driving skills. He said it is their vision to issue licenses to quality drivers to ensure public safety.

He said however, that the city is not alone in this problem as most field offices nationwide do not run a driving range due to budget constraints.

He said that Davao City in particular still cannot afford to acquire land for a driving range citing initial efforts to seek assistance from the private sector and local government are being undertaken.

Rustom Cacdac, an LTO driver skills examiner for almost 20 years, told MindaNews an actual road test is better. He said they could also size up not only a driver's manual skills but also how he follows traffic rules and regulations.

He said another problem is LTO's lack of vehicles for drive tests involving applicants who are seeking driver’s licenses for motorcycles as well as light-weight and heavy vehicles.

Arocha said they are doing their best to administer both the written and practical tests despite the constraints. He assured the quality of testing is not affected even if they do it inside the compound.

He opined, however, that only 65 percent of the city's drivers could be called "quality drivers" and that a great number of drivers are "undisciplined”.

He said Mayor Rodrigo Duterte already censured LTO for not delivering fast and quality service in screening drivers who apply for licenses. He said they are fast-tracking preparations for the visit of external auditors to evaluate their systems prior to an ISO 9000 accreditation.

He admitted that requirements such as an hour-long seminar are not enough for drivers to squeeze in all the knowledge. He said the responsibility lies in the professional drivers who spend more time in training student drivers before the latter apply for a license.

He said they are eying a refresher course for licensed drivers every six years and the offering of an elective course in high school to teach the youth on traffic rules and regulations ahead of time.

He estimated that everyday around 100 applicants take a written test prior to the practical examination. Half of the examinees would fail the written test, and four out of 30 applicants would not pass the practical examination.