SC DMV plans to put new drivers into more traffic with new road test

South Carolina officials say they plan to put new drivers through a more realistic road test before giving them a license.

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WACH) -- South Carolina officials say they plan to put new drivers through a more realistic road test before giving them a license to drive.

The Department of Motor Vehicles plans to put new drivers into more traffic than they usually face in the typical road test.

"One of the worst things you can do is put someone on the road who's not ready to be there," said Beth Parks, spokeswoman for the SC Department of Motor Vehicles.

The new road tests, which are already being conducted in some parts of the state, should do a better job of doing that. Testing has traditionally been on safer, neighborhood streets where there is little traffic and have focused on three-point turns, parallel parking and driving in reverse.

DMV officials, based on criteria discussed by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, want to put license applicants on interstates or multiple-lane roadways during testing to create the more "realistic" conditions.

"Everyone drives in a neighborhood, but having a road test only in neighborhood roads is not what you need," said Parks.

Even the most seasoned Midlands drivers can develop bad habits that may earn them an "F" on a road test and can cause plenty of possible hazards and headaches.

"Driving in Columbia is hectic," said Midlands driver Kendrick Muldrow. "Most of it all it's people just not using your signal light and turning. It's really annoying especially in five o'clock traffic."

That's exactly the kind of traffic officials want new drivers to be ready for, especially young people. According to Triple A's "Keys 2 Drive" guide for teen safety, the number one cause of death among drivers ages 16-20 is a car crash.

Getting new drivers as well-prepared as possible for potential road hazards is the driving force behind making them expect the unexpected while trying to earn a license. For years, DMV examiners have taken drivers on testing routes so well practiced during drivers' education runs that some students knew exactly where to turn.

"You need something that is more realistic," said Parks. "What the applicant is going to have to drive in to go to work every day or go to school."

WACH Fox News contacted several area driving schools. All of them support the changes to the driving test and the DMV's commitment to improving driver readiness.

One instructor said they are not interested in getting students ready to simply "beat the test," rather they want to make make sure new drivers have the skills necessary to be safe on the roadways.

The new testing criteria including different routes, maneuvers, and a more straightforward pass/fail grading system should be implemented state-wide by this summer.