DMV pilots new testing program in Horry, Florence Co.

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) Is your teen itching to get behind the wheel? You might consider enrolling them in the driver training program the Department of Motor Vehicles is testing this summer.

The pilot program is being tested before launching statewide, the Department of Motor Vehicles has chosen 13 counties in South Carolina to test a Class D Third Party Tester Program: Aiken, Anderson, Berkeley, Charleston, Florence, Greenville, Horry, Lexington, Pickens, Richland, Spartanburg, Sumter and York counties.

This summer the DMV offices in those counties will test a new partnership, allowed driver training schools to test the knowledge and skills needed for people applying for a first time Class D, passenger vehicle beginner permit or driver license.

"The program gives driver training schools a great opportunity to expand their services," said Executive Director Kevin Shwedo. "It also allows us to outsource one of our most time-consuming transactions and reduce wait times in our offices."

The schools that once just offered training, and can now offer the test itself, will be subjected to strict regulations using testing routes approved by the DMV. As this program is in the infant stages, the DMV will be monitoring closely, and even successful applicants may be subject to re-testing when they arrive at the DMV to receive their driver's license.

If a school does not meet the requirements of South Carolina law or regulations, DMV may suspend or cancel the school's Class D Third Party Tester agreement or an individual instructor's certification.

"By starting the program as a pilot, DMV can monitor it before going statewide," said Driver Services Director Annie Phelps. "Oversight is the key to the success of the program. Our concern is always the safety of the driver and to have quality control measures in place to help us administer the program effectively."

More than 30 driver training schools will participate in the pilot program. DMV trained and certified at least one instructor from each school in the Class D Third Party Tester program.

"The Third Party Tester program just makes good business and economic sense," said Shwedo. "It creates competition for businesses, one-stop shopping for driver license applicants and shorter wait times at DMV offices. It's a win-win opportunity."

When the program is completed in the fall, officials expect it will then be offered statewide.

The agency offers similar programs for Class M motorcycle and commercial driver licenses.

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