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franklin county times

Driver's exam proves tough for many

By Staff
MOMENT OF ACHIEVEMENT Ciara King, 16, smiles for her first driver's license as examiner Kay Moore takes her photograph. Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star.
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Sept. 29, 2001
Ciara King's smile said it all: The 16-year-old from Enterprise received her intermediate driver's license because she passed the Mississippi driver's examination test.
Ciara's mother, Mary King, said she is proud of her daughter's achievement. But, she said, "it worries me some. It's not so much her driving as it is other drivers."
Moore and other driver's license examiners say King has reason for concern because roughly half of those who take the state driver's license exam for the first time fail.
The multiple-choice written test features 20 questions about driving procedures; it also asks potential drivers to identify 20 road signs. The majority of people taking the test for the first time are teen-agers.
Gale George, an examiner at the Meridian branch of the Mississippi Highway Patrol office, said teen-agers often have trouble identifying proper hand signals.
She said they also commonly fail the driving portion of the test when examiners ask them to dim and brighten their headlights. She said men often miss a question on the written test about what to do when an oncoming car's headlights are on bright.
Out-of-state residents who apply for a Mississippi license and whose current state license has been expired more than 30 days must take a 20-question, condensed version of the written test.
Drivers generally do well on that test, George said, adding that the one question they miss the most is about Mississippi drunken driving laws.
George said teen-agers who take the driving portion of the test sometimes make mistakes out of nervousness. She said they will run a stop sign or go through a red light.
Examiner Tiffany Thomas says she gets "all the bad drivers." Thomas said one woman made a left turn when asked to make a right turn; she said another woman ran out of gas.
Moore said her job can be dangerous, but a sense of humor helps.
Anyone who fails to buckle seat belts during the driving test automatically fail, she said. People who fail the exam must wait one week before they can take it again.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for the Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3236, or e-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.

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