NBC 6 Responds

Mother Believes New Fla. Driving Exam — Changed Due to Pandemic — Is Too Easy

In 2020, due to the pandemic, the state no longer required examiners to be inside of the car with drivers during exams.

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So often we have heard the jokes about bad drivers in Florida, but one mother isn’t laughing after she says her son’s driving exam was too easy.

Miriam Barrios called NBC 6 Responds after she witnessed her 16-year-old son Armando pass his driving exam.

“Like I told him, I trust his driving, I’ve been driving with him for a year, I know he is ready but now I wonder how ready are the other drivers out there,” Barrios said.

Her son took the exam in a parking lot outside the Mall of the Americas, where a state licensing office operates.

“The test took place in an empty parking lot, with no other traffic, and no other traffic signals, other than a stop sign and some cones,” Barrios said.

She said the examiner stood off to the side and called him on his cellphone to give him directions. The exam took less than five minutes.  

“They first made him drive in a straight line forward,” she said. “From there, she has him go and turn the corner, for which he has to signal, and makes him park in a designated parking space, which is a three-point turn, and then come back to her.”

NBC 6 Responds watched other exams take place at the same parking lot where Barrios’ son took his exam.

We saw the examiner outside of the car and asked each driver for the same three maneuvers.

It took just three minutes for Marino Arpino to pass his exam.

“It’s too easy, they should press a little bit more because we don’t face any real situations, in traffic,” Arpino said.

In 2020, due to the pandemic, the state no longer required examiners to be inside of the car with drivers during exams.

We asked the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles about the length of the exams and why they are being conducted in a parking lot instead of on the road. In a statement a spokesperson told us, “All credentialing personnel are trained on the correct way to administer these exams, whether it is conducted remotely or inside the vehicle, to ensure the prospective driver is able to safely operate a vehicle in Florida. Driving test examiners are expected to remain attentive at all times during the test and provide instructions that are clear, concise, and well-planned in order to accurately assess the customer’s driving skills.”

The state did not tell us when and if they intend to start retesting as before. In Bay County, however, they are doing the driving test on the street with an examiner in the car because authorities there decided that otherwise, you can not determine the proficiency of a driver.

Barrios says she hopes the testing requirements are beefed up.

“It’s scary to put your 16-year-old in a car by himself, which now legally he can do, with God knows who else is out there,” Barrios said.

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