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Alberta road tests play catch up in COVID-19 relaunch

Click to play video 'Alberta road tests play catch-up in relaunch' Alberta road tests play catch-up in relaunch
As Alberta's relaunch continues, driving tests are back on the road --and facing an even larger backlog than before the shutdown. Emily Olsen reports – Jul 20, 2020

As Alberta continues its relaunch amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, automotive registries are receiving plenty of calls each day about long wait times to book road tests.

“They are really, really frustrated over it all,” director of operations at Lethbridge Vehicle Licensing and Registry, David Vos said. 

“For the most part, they’re understanding because they understand that with the pandemic, the whole world shut down. The economy shut down, everything had to shut down. But still the length of time is really, really frustrating.”

Read more: Cancellation of Alberta road tests likely causing ‘huge backlog,’ registries worried about catch-up

According to Vos, the backlog has been there since before COVID-19 when the provincial government took over the testing process and attempted to streamline the booking process to only online or in-person, and transferred examiner’s contracts so that they report directly to the government rather than individual registries.

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“So now, they never caught up from (being) 15,000 tests behind,” Vos said. “And now over the last three months, there’s been another 10,000 to 15,000 people wanting to upgrade their license, get new licences –Class 1, Class 3, Class 4 –all the classes of licence.”

Vos added the government is working to address these issues quickly.

“They’re bringing more examiners back on board and they’re trying to open up more time slots.”

Click to play video 'Albertans can now book a driving test again' Albertans can now book a driving test again
Albertans can now book a driving test again – Jun 30, 2020

In a statement to Global News, the Ministry of Transportation said road tests resumed on June 30 with a number of COVID-19 health and safety protocols in place.

“Most road tests were suspended during the State of Public Health Emergency because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement read. “As a result, we know that some Albertans are experiencing long wait times as we relaunch the system, and we are working to increase the number of road tests we can deliver while maintaining the necessary health and safety protocols.”

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With distancing and disinfecting precautions in place, Vos expects the pace to be be slower for some time.

“Everything is a no-touch policy. They don’t have to touch anything from the driver, the driver doesn’t have to touch anything from the examiner.”

Read more: Want a driver’s licence? Alberta road tests reopen to the public with new COVID-19 restrictions

He recommends saving the trip into your local registry and booking online, bringing a mask to your test and preparing to wait outside as smaller registries need to maintain social distancing.

“Right now, you’re looking at anywhere from four to six weeks, sometimes as long as eight weeks, before you can book an appointment.”

If someone is able to book into a cancellation, that waiting period could be shorter.