Driver Authorization Card seekers struggle with written test

CARSON CITY— The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles reported Monday that after three days of accepting applications for the new Driver Authorization Card, the failure rate on the written test is 71 percent.

This is 14 points above the average for those taking the driver’s license test, the agency reported.

Those passing the written test did well on the skills exam, achieving a 70 percent success rate.

The card allows qualified Nevada residents who are not U.S. citizens to legally drive in Nevada. The California Highway Patrol also said on Friday it will accept the cards for Nevadans driving in that state.

For the first three days of the program, which started Jan. 2, the agency administered about 500 written tests per day across the state for those seeking the card.

In some cases, heavy turnouts forced the agency to turn away applicants because driver examination capacities had been reached. Additional applicants were turned away for not having proper documentation.

“We are seeing a few early trends,” said DMV Director Troy Dillard. “Test scores are improving on the re-tests and the applicants are doing better on the driving test than they are on the written test.”

Dillard said the program is working the way DMV hoped it would.

“The intent of the DAC program is to have drivers who are better informed and more knowledgeable about the rules of the road,” he said. “That is happening. There is a learning curve for people not familiar with the rules of the road and those applying for the DAC are in a learning mode.”

Dillard said he hopes the program also will lead to a higher percentage of insured motorists.

“Our law was patterned after Utah’s law, and what they experienced in Utah was a significant drop in their rate of uninsured motorists,” he said. “More insured motorists were a byproduct of the Utah law. If we can replicate that in Nevada we will have more drivers on the road who know the rules and have a higher rate of insured motorists. In the end, that would benefit all of us.”

The card was created in the 2013 session of the Nevada Legislature with an eye toward making the roads safer.

An estimated 60,000 Nevada residents are eligible for the card, which must be renewed annually.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.