Frustration for teens as drivers tests take a back seat
PASSING your driver’s licence test is one of life’s coming-of-age milestones countless teenagers look forward to every year.
Unfortunately, this year looks to be a little different for some of those young adults, much like Gracemere woman Hayley Newman.
Ms Newman was set to undertake her test at the end of April three days after she turned 17.
Instead, she will now have to wait for at least three months after Department of Transport last month announced it would cancel all testing in an attempt to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
“They decided to take away driving tests for the next few months which is a bit of a struggle for some of us. It’s not just teenagers either. There are so many people in the same boat and it just puts added stress on them day-to-day. “
Her frustration with the government’s decision prompted the teenager to take action.
“I started an online petition through Change.org to hopefully encourage them to revisit the rules. I’ve also reached out to them twice but I’ve yet to hear anything back.”
The petition, she said, had already amassed over 1000 signatures.
“The reason I believe a lot of people signed is because kids need licences, they need jobs, and this is really impacting some people’s job prospects during an already tough time.”
As her mother transitions to work from home during the pandemic, commuting her barista daughter to work some 40 minutes away has proven both challenging and time-consuming.
“It’s a real struggle for my mum to drop me there and pick me up. It’s taking about an hour to an hour and half out of her day. If I was able to get my licence, then that wouldn’t have to happen.”
“I know I’m not really an essential worker, but I know of other teenagers who are and they’re facing the same issue. One’s who have just turned 17 and can no longer get their licence because of this,” said Ms Newman.
Her frustration, she admitted, lay with contradicting regulations on hairdressers still operating despite being unable to adhere to 1.5m social distancing rules.
“In the car, at least there’s some distance between the driver and instruction. Obviously it’s not 1.5m away – but there is a certain distance and it’s a lot more than hairdressing.”
Instead, she believes safety measures including face masks, gloves, strict sanitation of vehicles before and after use, and only being permitted to use a driver instructor’s car should be implemented.
“I know everyone says there’s public transport, but isn’t there more of a risk of transmitting the virus by using that? It just doesn’t make sense that we are unable to get our licences.”
“It’s so much easier to take precautions than to just shut it down and create a massive backlog, about up to a year’s wait apparently, when they finally start to do tests again.”
Department of Transport and Main Roads responded to Ms Newman last week, assuring the teenager that when testing reopens, those with existing bookings like herself would be prioritised.