We've heard it all, even said it all. Too many stupid drivers. Either the driver's exams are inadequate or no one actually takes them, much less seriously. So instead of just staying with the public gallery, criticizing and faulting the government, we've come up with our own proposal to improve drivers in our country as we propose the LTO to outsource it's driver examination function. 

Why indeed outsource LTO's driver examination function? Well, here are the reasons why:

  1. To relieve LTO from physically administering both actual driving and written driver's license examination so that LTO can concentrate on just issuing and renewing driver's licenses and keeping records up-to-date. With the right IT software, LTO, if desired, can easily ramp up to a points/demerit system for violations.

  2. To harness private sector efficiencies and employ the latest technology to ensure faster exam processing and traceability of records.

  3. To ensure wider coverage of LTO's ability to vet, qualify and improve driver standards.

  4. To ensure outsourcing contractors performance to be consistent with the mandate of the LTO to secure the integrity of the process and validity of every LTO issued driver's license.

Should the LTO outsource the driver's exam?

Now we get to the nitty gritty. To get the LTO to outsource its functions, it must first set out its minimum standards then issue a new set of guidelines for driver's exams. This entails harnessing the inherent efficiency of private companies and have them conform to the here under listed essential characteristics of outsourced examination of driver's licenses.

  • Accredited outsourced private contractors to administer the actual driving and written exam.

  1. The accredited outsourced contractor for the actual driving exam for driver's license applicants must have a driving course or testing facility, whether owned or rented, with either a driving simulator or a driving course. For example: the barest minimum standards are the specification of the two existing driver's courses in the Philippines, namely the A-1 Driving School course and Honda's Safety Driving School. Parallel to this LTO shall devise and improve the minimum specifications for such courses.

  2. The driving courses for actual driving exams can be rented facilities like race tracks, abandoned parking lots, runways and the like. Example : TRS or Tuason Racing School may choose to spread its expertise and establish a network of driving schools. TRS will then contract privately owned race circuit or test track facilities for a certain length of time, day or night, in select areas in the country for the purpose of conducting official actual driving tests.

  3. Although not mandatory, it is ideal for the exam venue to be a one-stop shop for written as well as actual driving exam courses and if permissible be near or have an on-site LTO pilot agency.

  4. The on-site LTO pilot agency will be tasked to issue student permits and licenses and accept other files for transmission to main agencies.

  5. The actual exam driving courses must be able to accommodate driver testing for the main categories of license restrictions – 2-wheeled, 4-wheeled, manual gearbox, automatic gearbox, trucks above 4,500kg GVW and articulated tractor trailer.

  6. For the written exam, the outsourced contractor must also have AV equipped classrooms that are comfortable for showing of a standard video displaying all the driving situations that the written exam will test for. Example; Besides a video, the French system issues a booklet called the “Code de la Route” and inside there are drawings of the popular French cartoon characters “Asterix et Obelix” to liven up and visualize the narrative.

  7. The accredited driving course can charge one package price for a comprehensive LTO driving exam inclusive of the standard refresher/reviewer video, instructor Q&A, test car, practical driving course with tandem riding instructor, video or still photos of actual testing and transmission of results and documents to the LTO with recommendation.

  8. The accredited driving course can also just charge for the written exam for licensed drivers needing a retake as part of the penalty for getting caught “Reckless Driving”.

  9. The accredited driving course can also charge only for the practical driving exam portion if the examinee is verified to have passed the on-line written exam.

  10. Applicants for the Driver's examination package need only present their LTO student driver permit. Graduates of other driving schools or family driver home schooling can apply to take all the exams for so long as they present a valid student permit.

  11. The accredited driving course will only be liable for proving that the applicant took the exams [written and/or actual driving] and passed them, but cannot be held liable for any future driving errors caused by the licensed driver. Any traffic violation the driver may incur in the future is solely his/her responsibility.

  12. The driving course venues will be accredited for operation as an accredited driving course and inspected regularly by LTO.

 Should the LTO outsource the driver's exam?

  • On-line written exam with instant results and immediate encoding/uploading to official LTO records.

  1. LTO should encourage examinees to take the written driver's exam on-line. Pass or Fail is instantly determined and the applicant is encouraged to take the exam again. When passed, the examinee will be issued a printable form with a code that the examinee can now present to the accredited driving course so as to be exempt from taking the written exam again.

  2. Testing centers for the written exam must staff expert driving instructors who will take Q&A after the video showing. The instructor should also be able to assist those who are taking the driving exam. After this, there will be a break so the instructor can still deal with any other questions. Right after the break, the applicants are ushered into another room where they will take the official LTO written exam, preferably by electronic means so the exam is instantly filed and recorded digitally. If the exam is administered traditionally, encoding and uploading should be done as soon as possible. This digital file will always be ready for electronic access by LTO. Pass or Fail is instantly determined and recorded.

  3. The actual driving exam will be done using the autos provided by the driving course. Accredited driving courses of Honda, A-1 and the defunct AAP driving school can identify at least 10 basic situations that can be duplicated on the driving course which normally includes:

  4. “hanging take off” from an incline – or so called “bitin”, - on at least 10% grade -using a manual transmission and clutch.

  5. Stopping before a zebra crossing.

  6. Sudden lane change to avoid a running pedestrian

  7. Stopping before a stop line and 4-way stop.

  8. executing a left turn from a signal light without a green arrow

  9. parallel parking with correct distance from a corner

  10. reversing out of parallel parking

  11. lane merging between traffic cones

  12. rapid overtaking, and

  13. hard braking to a full stop.

  14. For articulated tractor trailer, there must be a reversing course with a trailer on tow. An articulated trailer and tractor head to be provided by the driving course by appointment.

  15. Once the applicant passes, he is given another coded document that he will just submit to the LTO office of choice and all the LTO has to do is print and issue him/her the plastic license. The accredited driving course must upload the passing applicant's documentation right away so LTO can process issuing the applicant a new license. LTO must determine the minimum number of days before the applicant goes to the LTO pilot agency to claim his/her license.

 Should the LTO outsource the driver's exam?

  • Easy examinee identity verification for on line written exam and practical driving exam to safeguard against “ghost” or “substitute” examinees other than the named applicant

  1. For examinees who pass the internet exam, they will show the printed code form to the accredited driving course for purpose of skipping the written exam. To check the identity, the examinee, he/she will be made to approach a console with a keyboard. He/she will be asked to answer 3 random questions from the same exam that he/she took. If the examinee gives 2 answers out of 3 that differs from the answers [regardless if correct or incorrect, what matters here is consistency] he/she gave on the internet exam, the examinee will be required to re-take the written exam at the driving course before taking the practical driving exam.

  2. The driving course must have recorded still photos or short videos of the driver [for proof of attendance] doing at least 3 random tests out of the ten. The image or video must have a time and date stamp. The driver applicant must be clearly seen in the car or motorcycle doing, test 3, 7 and 10 or other 3 random tests. This will be included in the driver's exam records for access by the LTO.

  • LTO employees who used to administer exams will be retrained as LTO inspectors of accredited exam testing centers and driving courses.

  • LTO will expand its digital capabilities [in house or outsourced] to accommodate instant encoding and validation of exam results.

  • LTO will study, create and improve minimum requirements for computerized driving exam simulators. Driving exam simulators can substitute for driving courses for as long as the simulator's exam has the same questions/situations.

With all of the above in mind, the LTO must now ramp up its IT capability to process and deliver collected data, allow on-line examination with encoding of official results and on-line enabled LTO verification of examinee identity and filing of exam results prior to issuance of licenses. Moreover, LTO must now devise minimum standards for an officially approved driving course, whether permanent or established on temporary facilities like a race track, runway or parking lot. With these minimum testing facilities, the LTO can now accredit the driving course venue for the duration of use. This will mean LTO will now have to have a staff of trained driving course inspectors to validate and certify the facilities and the testing procedure conducted on that particular driving course.

With the outsourcing of driver examination, LTO can focus on improving both the written and actual driving tests to improve the minimum basic skills of a legitimate licensed driver. While outsourcing will expand the reach of driver testing, there is one kind of driver, even the righteous kind, that no exam can second guess. This is the driver who knows all the rules and can easily follow them but prefers to violate them if he/she thinks he/she can get away with it if no one is watching and/or is motivated by trying to put one over the other driver. To determine that predisposition needs specifically designed psychological tests and to eliminate that tendency needs value formation from basic education or moral superiors.