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March 21, 2013

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Police deny they limit driving tests

SHANGHAI traffic police said yesterday that they do not limit the number of people taking driving tests after some local driving schools blamed the prolonged examination cycle and decrease in new students on police restrictions.

Police said any disruption is caused by the more demanding tests and large number of people who signed up for driving school late last year. In China, driving school training is required before taking the tests.

"There's no such thing as a restriction," said an official with the Shanghai Traffic Police. Police said they and traffic administration are also working on a plan that will "enforce the standard time for learning using training vehicles to ensure the quality of the teaching." The plan will be released by year's end.

The number of students taking the tests dropped about one-third this year, compared with the same period last year. A total of 72,928 people have taken the tests this year, said police, with another 36,241 still waiting to take the tests.

The higher number of those waiting was caused by a sudden surge of students trying to get into the driving schools at year's end as the schools said tuition would increase with the new, stricter traffic law taking effect this year.

The passing rate for the driving exam plunged this year as the tests added new items in line with the stricter law. That left no room for new students because the ones who failed were retaking the course.

On the section on driving theory taken with computers, the passing rate slid to 76 percent from the previous 90 percent, police said. The road tests dropped from 85 percent to 48 percent at some testing centers.

Police expected that the bulge will ease after the current students gradually pass the tests.

Big changes are expected among driving schools this year, industry sources said, with schools that are lax in teaching expected to be weeded out.

"We'd like to see an increase in driver abilities, especially for the rookies, and fewer accidents caused by poor driving skills," said Li Hui, an officer with city traffic police.


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