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August 2015

Three perspectives on Driver Examiners


iStock 000005913775Medium 1Proud to Participate in the IDEC Program

The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles is deeply committed to the proper training and continued growth of motor vehicle examiners. We recognize there is a responsibility not only to the applicant being examined, but also to those drivers in the oncoming lane. We have proudly participated in the AAMVA International Driver Certification (IDEC) program since 2001. We are extremely proud to be a board member of the IDEC committee helping to create, standardize, implement and publicize new examiner training techniques.

The role of a motor vehicle examiner is multifaceted and one that touches individual lives in many ways. Examiners are generally among the first governmental employees to interact with our youth. By virtue of this interaction, they set the tone for young adults’ perception of state government. It is imperative that the examiner has the skills necessary not only to assess the applicant’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, but also to have above-average communication skills so he or she can interact with the test applicants and their parents—and not to mention, in some cases, nerves of steel!

Motor vehicle examiner duties range widely, and many examiners not only conduct the standard motor vehicle exam, but also complete motorcycle, school bus, commercial vehicle and special re-examinations for drivers who may have lost some of their cognitive abilities due to age, medical issues and, in some cases, assessing the needs and abilities for altered vehicle controls.

The span of knowledge for an examiner is immense, and the ability for the examiners and the state to keep their knowledge sharp and current is imperative. Participating in the IDEC program allows us to train our examiners through an approved examiner course. This course is reviewed and updated annually, and is a nationally recognized program. It meets the examiners requirements defined by 49 CFR 384.228, higher continuing education standards, reduces liability issues and offers professional development for our trainers. Program participation provides states with instructor guides, student workbooks, training videos, driver handbooks and award recognition to our examiners.

As the Vermont DMV continues its commitment to highway safety, we will be participating in all programs offered through IDEC. We have seen the value it offers in reducing examiner and state liability and the increase in public safety..

iStock 000005913775Medium 2Focused on the Customer

Helping customers and seeing that they’re satisfied is the best part about my job. If I can please the customer, then I’m happy.

Another great part about my job as a driver examiner in Tennessee is that it’s a very hands-on role. I process customers, perform road tests and do whatever I can to keep the office going.

On days when I perform road tests, I typically do about 15 in a day. If I can squeeze in a road test for which there is no appointment but the person needs a license, I will, and that makes both the customer and me happy.

The first thing I try to do when beginning road tests is make sure that the applicants aren’t nervous. If they’re nervous, they can make a lot of mistakes on the road. I try to make them feel as comfortable as possible. I let them know I’m grading them, but I tell them to treat me like a family member in the car. If they follow the rules of the road, don’t do anything illegal, make full stops and get us back safely, then all will be well.

I’ve been in four wrecks in my 12½ years as a driver examiner. Not all applicants are perfect, and they all have something they can learn from. If they do something illegal, like break the speed limit, they will fail. If it’s something like not coming to a complete stop or not using turn signals properly, we will just take a point off.

A lot of people look at the DMV and don’t want to come in because it has a bad name. We focus on making sure they want to come back, that they don’t have any problems, and are pleased and satisfied. If customers come in mad and then leave with smiles on their faces, I know I’ve done my job.


iStock 000005913775Medium 3aCollaboration is Key in Kentucky

Kentucky doesn’t have a DMV per se. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet oversees driver background, driver history records, self-certification and anything medical; the Kentucky State Police performs the knowledge and skills testing; and the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) administers and issues the actual driver’s license.

People don’t always understand how we operate with three separate agencies involved in the licensing process. It’s similar to DMVs that have separate branches with expertise in certain areas. We interact all the time and use the same computer system to share information. For example, we [on the state police side] can see the date when drivers receive their permits as well as all the knowledge tests they have successfully taken. Seeing this helps in the scheduling process and in ensuring that the applicant has held the permit for the minimum 14 days prior to his or her road test. When we enter the scores from the road tests [into the software], the clerks at AOC can then issue a license.

Kentucky does not utilize third-party testers. Every commercial driver license examiner is either a sworn commercial vehicle enforcement officer or a retired trooper. All of our examiners are current or previously CVSA-certified commercial motor vehicle inspectors, which makes it easier for them to determine if there’s a problem with a vehicle or if it’s safe to drive. That makes it easier to have everyone on the same page. If you go to eastern Kentucky, the test will be administered in the exact same way as in western Kentucky.

Kentucky also participates in the International Driver Examiner Certification (IDEC) program, which acknowledges each examiner with a certification. Additionally, the IDEC program makes everybody competitive. We take the program and turn it into a competition in our eight regions. This competition challenges and encourages everyone to keep up with all updates in order to stay proficient in their work. This friendly, internal competition makes the entire process safer, not only for the applicant, but for the examiner as well. It’s a win-win situation for knowledge testers and examiners, and for the Kentucky State Police as an agency. The real beneficiaries of the IDEC program are our citizens and all who visit the Commonwealth of Kentucky in a motor vehicle.