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August 14, 2013

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Drivers pass test with no driving school help

Three drivers yesterday became the first in the city to pass their test and gain their license without driving school training.

All three had previously held licenses which were suspended or canceled for various reasons, said police.

They had to reapply for these but were allowed to skip attending driving school which is usually compulsory, said traffic police.

Officers said they would “add more test venues to handle such cases.”

But police stressed that the new policy, which was introduced last month, only targets drivers who had licenses previously. Learner drivers are not permitted to sit a test without going through driving school.

Police said 420 people have applied to sit the test in this way.

“I am happy to have license again,” said a driver surnamed Xia, who passed yesterday. He used to be a bus driver but lost his license after an accident in 2011.

Xia said he undertook short-term training before taking the tests.

Traffic authorities still tightly control the number of people who can sit their driving test in this way, with no more than 240 a week and 720 a month.

But Shanghai lawmakers called on the policy to be expanded to allow other people to take driving tests without first going to driving schools, as is the practice in some foreign countries.

“Driving schools will not disappear if it’s not compulsory to attend them before taking the test,” said city lawmaker Jin Keke.

“Instead the industry will be healthier with better qualities,” predicted Jin.

Jin also pointed out that fees at some schools are not transparent. On average, a student must pay between 6,000 yuan (US$979) and 7,000 yuan.

But traffic police said the practicalities of finding and regulating places to learn to drive present problems.

Qi Jiren, an officer with city vehicle management office, said learner drivers “could cause further congestions downtown where the road resources are limited.”

At the moment, those caught illegally learning to drive on city roads can be fined up to 2,000 yuan, while someone who lets a learner driver use their vehicle faces 15 days detention.



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