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Phuket driver’s licence tests start rolling toward privatization

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: The Department of Land Transport (DLT) has begun rolling out its campaign to privatize driving tests, with the goal of having private-company driving schools conduct all the practical and theory tests on the government’s behalf by 2017.

People applying for their first driver’s licence will soon be able to watch the mandatory training video at a driving school instead of at the Phuket Land Transportation Office (PLTO) in Phuket Town.

“This hasn’t happened yet, but applicants soon will be able to watch the training video at a private driving school that has been accredited by the DLT,” said Terayout Prasertphol, chief of the PLTO.

The move follows a direct order from the DLT in Bangkok, Mr Terayout told the Phuket Gazette today.

The PLTO has already cut down the number of days on which it shows the video for people applying for their first driver’s licence.

“Cutting down on the [number of video screenings] at our office is the first step in this change,” Mr Terayout said.

“Throughout January, we are [showing the video] only on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. In February, the video will be shown on Monday through Wednesday.”

All people applying for their first licence must watch a four-hour training video. Drivers applying to renew their licences must watch a one-hour “refresher” video.

With the PLTO overloaded with applicants, the office will allow people to come in on a day that the video is not being shown and take queue cards (take a number) for the next screening, Mr Terayout added.

Mr Terayout stressed that people looking to renew their licences remained unaffected by the change.

“The one-hour video is still being shown at the PLTO, Monday through Friday, as it has been for a long time,” he said.

The goal of the “privatization” campaign is to have driving schools conduct both the practical and the theory tests so that students who have passed accredited driving courses can present their certificates – issued by private companies – to the PLTO in order to be issued their driver’s licences, Mr Terayout explained.

“Driving school instructors will be accredited directly by the DLT and random inspections of the driving schools will be carried out by DLT officers,” he said.

“The idea is to have more people taught by qualified driving instructors before they are issued their licences.”

Last year, the PLTO signed a Memorandum of Understanding with five institutions on the island to offer driver training courses for the public (story here).

However, the institutions are not yet prepared to provide this service, Mr Terayout told the Gazette.

“The next step in the process, after we stop providing courses at our office, will be to begin providing the courses through these institutions,” he said.

Mr Terayout did not say when this change would take place.

The latest move by the DLT to improve the standard of driving on Thai roads came last year, when the theory test was ramped up from 30 to 50 questions – of which 45 must be answered correctly.

Following a spate of new applicants failing the revised theory test, the PLTO posted online exam questions, with answers, in Thai and English (click here).

— Khumpee Prasertphol

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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