Mark Shell, 18 years old from Columbia, PA, pulled his white Subaru into the parking spot with a sense of accomplishment. He had kept his cool, remembered his training, and consequently had completed a rite of passage for modern teenagers. Grinning so big that his face mask couldn’t hold it in, he exclaimed that he had passed his driver’s test.
“I’m driving to my Grandpa’s to celebrate,” he announced happily.
Mark and the two other teenagers taking their tests earned their driver’s licenses Wednesday morning at the Driver’s License Testing Center at the Lancaster County Career & Technology Center’s Brownstown Campus. The LCCTC’s Testing Center reopened for business in early July after Lancaster County moved to the “Green” phase of the state’s reopening process.
The permission to reopen driver’s testing did not come without some requirements. Guidelines and mandates from the PA Department of Education and from PennDOT changed the format of the current testing considerably. Despite the changes, the LCCTC driver’s examination still allows examiners ample opportunity to evaluate the prowess of each novice driver.
“We have really been itching to reopen so the LCCTC made certain that our driver’s examination addressed the testing requirements from the state. That way we were ready to reopen as soon as the county moved to the “yellow” phase,” said Michael Pasqualucci, LCCTC Director of Transportation Technologies.
Due to social distancing restrictions, test takers no longer drive with the examiner in the car. The examiner follows the test taker along the test course in a separate car, while a parent or other licensed driver rides as the test taker’s passenger. Because the examiner is following rather than riding along in the test car, the test route no longer leads onto public roads. It follows the campus’ large parking lots with several stop sign intersections and other traffic variations.
“The test at the LCCTC definitely exceeds what PennDOT requires of a driver’s test within the pandemic parameters.” Anthony Austin, the LCCTC’s Non-Commercial Instructor/Site Supervisor, explained. “Our course includes enough parameters to evaluate each driver. We conduct an automobile controls test before the driving portion, where the driver needs to be able to demonstrate the use of each control in the car. We also test for complete stops, moving the head to check for traffic, keeping to varying speed limits, and, of course, parallel parking.”
Natasha Hoover, 16 years old, said that the state shutdown had definitely impacted her plans to get her driver’s license. She said that she could have taking her test on April 9, but had to wait for the testing center’s to reopen.
“I’m so happy to get my license!” Natasha said, “It will make a big difference in getting to work in the morning if I don’t have to get a ride from my mom.”
Third-party testing centers, like the LCCTC’s at the Brownstown campus, can offer some convenience that the Department of Transportation sometimes cannot, like shorter wait times for scheduled tests and a more relaxed overall experience.
“I felt much more comfortable and less anxious than I think I would have with the instructor in the car,” Mark admitted.
Sixteen-year-old Luke Redding and his mom, Amy Redding, drove in from Columbia, PA, to take his driver’s test at the CTC.
“This is the second time I took my test but I got it this time!” Luke said. Luke’s mom said that it was a bit of a drive to come in from Columbia to take the test but she said that it was worth it.
“The retest date for Luke’s driver’s license wasn’t until late October,” Amy said. “It is so much more convenient to come out the LCCTC for the test instead.” She said that she had heard from friends that the testing experience at the LCCTC was much more relaxed than other options. Additionally, she said that it really helped Luke to come out to the campus a few times and practice driving and parallel parking after business hours on campus’ parking lot.
When asked where the first place he would go with his new license, Luke pondered a moment and decided, “I think that we will go and get some ice cream!”
The LCCTC’s Brownstown Campus is located at 231 Snyder Road, Ephrata, PA. Anyone with questions about testing and or scheduling appointments can call the LCCTC’s Driver’s License Center at 717-859-5102. You can also go online to https://lancasterctc.edu/locations/driver-license-testing-center/ for additional information.