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Driver training and testing to be more people-friendly

BEIJING – Chinese citizens that want to learn driving will have more choices in taking lessons and tests, according to the Guidelines on Promoting Reform of Motor Vehicle Driver Training and Examination Rules jointly issued by the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) and Ministry of Transport on November 30.

Changes were made on driving lessons and tests to streamline the current system. The government plans to start pilot programs in designated areas from 2016, and complete major reforms by 2018.

Under the new rules, candidates can apply for the test and complete conditional training without going to a driving school. It also allows people to use their own vehicles to practice driving, when supervised by a coach, under the condition that coaching equipment approved by public security authorities are installed in the vehicles and driving is conducted on designated routes.

China has more than 320 million licensed drivers, with the number growing by 30 million every year. Currently, they are required to receive mandatory training at driving schools before sitting theory and practical tests. Besides, they have to pay for the courses up front, and the schedule for lessons and exams is decided by the schools.

In changes to be made before 2018, learners can pay after the courses and some driving schools will adopt a time charge system. Learners will be offered choices on how to pay and also on when and where to take the tests.

Liu Zhao, director of MPS’ Traffic Administration Bureau, said the newly issued Guidelines is intended to resolve irregularities in the current market and improve training services.

“Due to the staff and space limit, 17 out of 36 big cities in China had the problem of backlog applicants,” said Liu, adding that the adoption of new measures will also optimize resources on driving tests.

The Guidelines will encourage the construction of more standardized social venues and nominate examiners from wider channels. It will allow applicants to take a single test in a different site within the province.

Evaluation and accountability mechanisms will be stricter. The Guidelines stipulates that a review of the issuing process must be administered when a license holder is responsible for a major traffic accident within three years of the issuing date. The schools will be penalized if it is found that they helped candidates cheat during road testing.

New measures will also benefit the elderly and the disabled.

Drivers need to have medical examinations every year after 70 years old, which is 10 years older than that in the current rule. The Guidelines also encourages schools to provide specialized training for the disabled, and for visually impaired learners requirements will be relaxed to a certain extent.

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