Hopeful drivers unable to get behind the wheel amid the COVID-19 pandemic can circle a new date on their calendars to test their skills.
Driver’s and motorcycle skills tests will resume at reopened PennDot driver license centers Tuesday, the department announced.
PennDot canceled about 28,000 skills tests scheduled between mid-March and the end of May. The department will prioritize customers whose appointments were canceled, and others can begin scheduling tests on June 20. PennDot will add additional tests as it balances the backlog, said Kurt Myers, PennDot deputy secretary for Driver and Vehicle Services.
“We obviously have limited resources,” he said. “Personnel wise, there are only so many folks who can give the skills test, but we’re going to do the very best we can, adding hours, adding tests, to be able to get caught up as quickly as we possibly can. But, obviously, it’s going to take some time.”
Serving as “some of Pennsylvania government’s most public touch points," PennDot closed driver and photo license centers in response to the pandemic. Centers that later extended limited service in “yellow” counties weren’t offering noncommercial road tests. PennDot has extended expiration dates on licenses, ID cards, and learner’s permits.
There will be changes to the test to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. PennDot staff will stay outside the vehicle, with the exam taken on closed test sites instead of on the road. Testers must wear a face mask as well as take a health prescreening in “yellow” phase counties.
“This is more than just about the 16½-year-old who wants to get a driver’s license,” Myers said. “This is about mobility.”
To schedule a test with PennDot, call its Driver and Vehicle Services Call Center at 717-412-5300. The online scheduling portal will reopen June 20, Myers said.
Long wait? PennDot is not the only option. Third-party testing sites — or businesses certified by PennDot to offer noncommercial driving tests — can resume testing once a county reaches “yellow." Driving lessons may also resume in “yellow.”
Most of the third-party centers are in Philadelphia’s five-county region.
Although transportation like ride sharing and SEPTA continued running throughout the pandemic, the sites were left struggling as business was put on hold.