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Georgia Suspends In-Person Driving Tests During Pandemic


For teenagers, the driver's test is kind of like a rite of passage, isn't it? But at the moment, in Georgia, thousands of kids are getting their licenses without actually taking that test.


Because Governor Brian Kemp has waived the test during this public health emergency.

GREENE: The point is to help enforce social distancing. It's not like students can sit six feet away from an instructor while they're inside a car. But people like Al Barber, president of the Georgia Driving School Association, thinks this is a really terrible idea.

AL BARBER: I believe this is one of the most dangerous acts - this executive order - that we've seen in our state.

KING: Barber is still offering road tests at his driving school.

BARBER: Even if you issue them all a license, this will come back to bite us in property damage, fatalities and injuries.

LUCY JONES: We're not talking about a light subject. We're talking about getting behind a motorized vehicle that can kill you or kill someone else.

KING: That last voice is Lucy Jones (ph). Her 16-year-old daughter got her license on Friday. And despite the rule change, Jones told her daughter, you will take the driving test.

JONES: Driving is a privilege in America. So our opinion was, you need to finish the drill. You need to go take the test.

GREENE: Now, we should say, teenagers in Georgia do have to pass other requirements to get that license - a clean record, approval from a guardian, 40 hours of supervised driving. And they need to have their learner's permit for a year plus a day.

KING: For 16-year-old Amaya Johnson (ph), that day will come in a couple weeks. When she saw on Instagram that she wouldn't have to take the test, she was astonished.

AMAYA JOHNSON: At first, I thought it was a joke. I thought it was, like, a fake news article that someone just posted or something. And then I looked it up. And I saw that it was true. And my first reaction was to call my mom.

KING: Her mom, Catherine Johnson (ph), says this new rule is irresponsible.

CATHERINE JOHNSON: She's going to have to go through our own internal Johnson Family DMV in order for her to be able to drive by herself.

GREENE: Amaya is glad about that. She knows people getting licensed now without the test. And she doesn't especially want to share the road with them. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.