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January 9, 2013

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Harder driving tests stir complaints

FEWER people are passing the driving license exam after stricter traffic laws were enacted this year.

The written test, once considered the easiest part of getting a license, was creating problems for a vast majority of test takers yesterday, the first day of the new exam.

"It's too difficult," said a student, surnamed Li, after leaving a test room in Minhang District where only one of 40 students passed. "I have not seen these questions before during my preparation."

The students complained the test questions were not included in their study materials. They said their study materials did not include information on the new traffic regulations.

Students are only allowed to take one road test after they pass the written test.

"I'm afraid it's difficult for them to pass the test at the very beginning," said a driving instructor. "In the past, it was simple and almost all of my students passed the first time."

Some instructors said stricter tests will lead to better drivers in the future.

Students were also having trouble with the new road test. At the Meilong driving school, only eight of 20 passed yesterday.

At the same time, some driving schools are increasing prices - in some cases part way through a course.

A student, surnamed Ni, said he was told by his instructor that he should "pay another 1,000 yuan (US$160.6) for the course." Ni had already paid 4,500 yuan.

"I'm very disappointed, Ni said. "The only thing they are concerned about is money."

City authorities said earlier they will monitor driving schools for illegal price hikes.

The new regulations add test items for learners, who face stricter standards. In response, driving schools said prices will rise in line with "cost increases and prolonged learning periods."

The new regulation puts more attention on dangerous driving and rookie drivers.

Rookies with less than one year of driving experience are now required to be accompanied by experienced drivers if they want to take expressways, where severe accidents are more frequent, police said.


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