Lafayette High School news. Student-run.

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Lafayette High School news. Student-run.

The Lancer Feed

Lafayette High School news. Student-run.

The Lancer Feed

Examiner shortages cause difficulties for prospective drivers

Maddy Cox
Just 20 minutes after the Highway Patrol Testing Center opens at 8:20 a.m., a line forms out the door. Sometimes, people show up to wait in line as early as 4:30 a.m.

A shortage of examiners has created issues with the administration of driver tests, resulting in hours long wait times, and people frequently being turned away due to the overflow of people attempting to get tested.

Chief Driver Examiner at the Missouri Highway Patrol, Percy Childs, says that the shortage began in 2020

“It kind of happened over a period of months, right around COVID-19 time, we started having retirements and people [leaving] to do other things,” Childs said.

Due to the lack of staff, it can be difficult for permit drivers to get a walk-in examination without having to wait for hours or being turned away entirely. This has caused many test seekers to take more extreme measures in an attempt to ensure themselves a slot.

“We’ve been getting reports of people getting in line between five and six [a.m.], depending on the area you can have anywhere between 30 to 80 people waiting,” Childs said.

Of those people, Childs reports that the number realistically receiving driving tests each day is only around 14 per examiner, so the number of permit drivers tested relies heavily on the number of available employees.

Not only are there difficulties with the number of drivers tested each day, but also the time they may end up waiting. A typical walk-in will end up waiting a few hours to receive their exam according to Childs.

Appointments can allow permit drivers to skip the line, but there are still a number of obstacles presented by the appointment booking system.

“It’s insane, they fill up within minutes [of opening]… as I open the appointment system online, if I open up 20 [appointment slots], within half an hour, 90% are filled up,” Childs said.

Appointments open up 21 days in advance by 30 minute increments.

Childs’ advice to teens trying to take their exam is to try and get an appointment through their online system, and if that does not work, Childs suggests getting to the exam building as early as possible to try to be one of the first walk-in spots.

 “Fridays and Mondays are still very busy days, but the way things are going right now it’s pretty much every day [that we are busy],” Childs said.

Junior Natalie Caudle has experienced these shortages first-hand, as she visited the Highway Patrol three times over the course of one month in order to receive her test.

“The first time I went, I didn’t have an appointment and I got there and they told me to come back [two hours later]…we ended up having to wait an hour after [the time] they told us to come,”  Caudle said. 

Caudle received a test that day, but did not pass.

The second time Caudle went, she was told they had no availability and that she would have to come back another day.

In response, Caudle and her mom attempted to get an appointment.

“We were hounding [the website], checking it every 15 minutes to see if we could get [an appointment] before my permit expired. We kept looking and looking and finally, I got one for noon [four days later],” Caudle said.

When Caudle arrived at the Highway Patrol with an appointment, she only had to wait about 10 minutes before an instructor came out to her car.

While she did not see many people at the facility that day, she reports there being over 25 people each time previously, and even remembers being told that people had been waiting outside since 4:30 a.m.

The Highway Patrol has been trying to get staff to amend this problem, Childs reports that one of the problems is that people don’t completely understand what the Highway Patrol does.

“A lot of people did not know that the Highway Patrol is actually over the driver examination division” Childs said, “We’ve gone out to different fairs and as we’re trying to recruit people… they have been saying ‘oh, I didn’t know there was a non-enforcement side of the Highway Patrol’ they figured that everybody had to be a sworn officer, on the streets and making arrests.”

Although the Highway Patrol has recently hired more people, it takes around four to six months for each new candidate to be trained before they can begin administering tests.

“I know its been frustrating trying to get your loved ones or trying to get yourself in to get tested. For the most part [the people of] the state of Missouri have been really patient and understanding, and I personally appreciate it…we’re trying our best to get new examiners,” Childs said.

Recently, the Highway Patrol has hired 12 examiners that are in the training process.

“We see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s not like before, where we’re just calmly descending. It’s getting to a point where we can say its starting to get better,” Childs said.

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About the Contributor
Maddy Cox, News Digital Content Editor
Grade: Junior Pronouns: She/Her Years on Staff: 1 Hobbies and Interests: reading, writing, Scooby Doo, and pre-2017 Barbie movies Favorite Quote: “Screw em if they can’t take a joke,” -Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia Favorite Hot Take: The Barbie movie isn’t misandrist we just live in an overly-normalized patriarchal society. Fun Fact: I believe in the Loch Ness monster, I think it is just an undiscovered species of marine life that we don’t know or understand yet.
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