Young drivers face long waits, long trips for road tests

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota parents are complaining that their families are facing long waits and having to drive long distances so their teens can take their driver’s license road tests.
Cheree Johnson, of Rockford, told KSTP-TV that she and her 16-year-old daughter, Ashley, had to drive an hour to Eagan to take the test recently because a closer location in Buffalo was booked until October. Fortunately, she passed on the first try. The Eagan office is now booked into October, too.
Other young drivers from the Twin Cities have had to travel more than 100 miles to takes their tests. The Bemidji scheduling office said three young drivers from the Twin Cities took tests there one day midweek. The Duluth center recently told KSTP that the first available driver’s road test in the northern part of the state was mid-July in Grand Rapids.
Cindy Kendall, of Hastings, had not just one new driver who needed to schedule a road test. Her twins are 17 and anxious to get behind the wheel. After months of calling and waiting, her daughter took her test in Winona. Her son is still waiting.
As he waited patiently outside the Arden Hills office Thursday morning, James Nelson said he’d been in line since 10 p.m. Wednesday, hoping that someone would skip out on a scheduled road test appointment. Twenty people were in line behind him.
“You just sleep in the truck, that’s what everyone here is doing, a lot of these guys, the four back there showed up at 3 o’clock in the morning,” he said.
State Rep. Jon Koznick said he’s considering whether the Legislature should do something about it next session.
“It shouldn’t be as frustrating and aggravating as it is,” the Lakeville Republican said. “We need to do a better job of scheduling, and having people arrive at 3 in the morning or 5 in the morning, it just shouldn’t have to be that way.”
The Department of Public Safety has received more than $2 million to pay for 12 additional examiners over the last four years, he said.
The department’s Driver and Vehicle Services division said it has 110 examiners across the state who administer around 130,000 skills tests annually. It plans to hire seven additional examiners in the next fiscal year, which begins Monday, with funding approved during the last legislative session.
___
Information from: KSTP-TV, http://www.kstp.com