BY AZMAT HAROON
DOHA: Several driving schools in the country have put on hold their theoretical, “L” and parking tests due to delay in implementing a new, computerised system for the theoretical tests. The development has reportedly caused a huge backlog of trainees waiting for the tests over the past two weeks.
Driving schools were given a February 10 deadline by the Traffic Department to implement the computerised system for theoretical tests. However, most of them are still in the process of installing the necessary equipment, it is learnt.
The theoretical tests are intended to assess the trainees’ knowledge of traffic signs and laws. The new system will see touch screen computers replace the paper charts that were used earlier to conduct the tests. “There will be no need of paper anymore. The trainees will be asked to identify images using touch screens. They will also be given headphones to listen to instructions in a language of their choice,” Muhammad Al Zain Ibrahim, Executive Manager of Gulf Driving School, told this newspaper yesterday.
He said the theoretical tests as well as the “L” and parking tests had been put on hold at the school until the computers were installed. Only trainees who pass the theoretical tests qualify for the other two tests. The final road test was being conducted for those who had already passed the other tests, he added.
“The tests are expected to resume on Sunday, when the computer tests will be available,” Ibrahim said, adding that the preparations were almost complete. Officials at several driving schools have welcomed the new system, saying it would be beneficial for the traffic police conducting the tests as well as the trainees.
“The computer system was a necessity. The previous method was primitive,” Adil Salim, manager of Al Raya Driving School, in Madinat Khalifa, said. Some driving schools are already conducting the computerised tests on an experimental basis. Many, however, believe the new system will take time to become fully functional, due to the lack of enough equipment in the schools and shortage of trained staff.
“The new system requires technical expertise, which staff in many schools lack,” said an official from a driving school. “There will be difficulties in the beginning, which is why many schools have not finished installing the new equipment till now,” he added.
He denied reports of long waiting lists of applicants at some driving schools, with people waiting for more than a month to enrol. “It’s not true. The maximum waiting period in most schools is two weeks,” said the official. He, however, noted that many driving schools did not have enough instructors to meet the growing demand. “There is also high demand for female instructors. An increasing number of women now want to learn driving, but many of them, especially Arabs, feel comfortable only with women instructors,” he added.