DRIVE ON: Licence testing in Mildura has returned in the nick of time for teens, according to Fiona McGlashan of 5th Gear Driving School. Photo: Paul Mensch

By PAUL MENSCH

THE return of licence testing in Mildura has come in the nick of time for teenagers, according to a local driving instructor.

Fiona McGlashan, said the region had a backlog of people waiting to take the mandatory licence test and many had been in limbo since late March when testing was suspended under COVID-19 restrictions.

“Because of the backlog of kids needing their licence, especially those who needed it for work or medical reasons, the decision was made in Melbourne to restart all of the driving instructors taking lessons and then recommence drivers licence testing conducted by VicRoads,” Fiona said.

“During lockdown one, a student could only go to Swan Hill to sit a driver’s licence test and it was only for an automatic car licence.”

But she said most local learner drivers needed a manual licence for work.

“This time they have kept it open – there was such a backlog of kids needing manual licences – they had to start working through it.”

Fiona said that VicRoads was now working through the list of the students who were originally booked in for a test in March.

“The biggest strain is that in the six months since then, we have had hundreds of kids who have become eligible for their licence who are also trying to book a test,” she said.

“I have kids who were booked in for a test in March that still have not been re-booked in yet. So now it is just mayhem, and VicRoads is doing an amazing job. They have employed extra testers at the Mildura office now and testing is happening back-to-back – as soon as one student finishes, another heads out.

“They are also working through international licences as well! They are trying their hearts out because they know that the kids need their licences as soon as possible.

“The other issue with the lockdown was that kids couldn’t even sit their learner licence test so they have not been able to practice driving and get up their required hours, therefore VicRoads is also having to work through that backlog too.

“At least learner drivers in Sunraysia have the ability to get out and practice. It is a huge job for VicRoads, but it is working through it.”