Calgary

Alberta driver test system makes examiner jobs 'very stressful and sometimes very unsafe,' former tester says

A driver examiner who quit when the system was taken over by the provincial government in March says it's not just drivers who are upset by the changes.

Province urged to address safety, training issues as it looks at revamping system

A veteran driver examiner says Alberta's testing standards have suffered since the government took over the operation. (CBC)

A driver examiner who quit when the system was taken over by the provincial government in March says it's not just drivers who are upset by the changes.

Lorraine Richards, who has done more than 80,000 road tests since 1980, told the Calgary Eyeopener on Monday that, in the past, driver examiners were trained for six months and worked under a senior examiner for two years.

She says that's no longer the case due to the province's rush to boost the number of driver examiners to clear a road test backlog.

"They do have their numbers up, but of the 150, remember that over 50 per cent are totally new to the job and can only test Class 5 basics to start off with. So there's a whole lot of tests in there that aren't getting done," she said.

"Unfortunately, the training, in my opinion and from past experience, is very, very minimal."

Richards says she resigned because under the new system, driver examiners are required to travel to locations they're unfamiliar with.

"So they were sending us to locations that we had never been to, had no or little chance to establish test routes and that could make our job very stressful and sometimes very unsafe, when you're trying to test and you have no idea where you're at yourself let alone instructing someone else to take the route," she said.

Along with the stress of testing on unfamiliar roads, Richards says scheduling is poorly managed. She wants both of those issues addressed as the province works to make changes.

Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver told the Eyeopener last week that his department is working overtime to fix a system he says the previous NDP government needlessly broke.

"This has been an expensive and poorly planned, unplanned experiment that we're trying to clean up right now," he said.

He said the new government recognizes that Albertans are frustrated by the backlog and will be doing a review of the public takeover of the driver's licence examinations.

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