After ten weeks, road test examiners are still on strike, and show no signs of breaking – but the government may be about to do an end run around them. Speaking Tuesday, Transport Minister Yisrael Katz said he had a solution to the strike – the issuance of temporary licenses by driving school instructors, to be used until the reform in testing is enacted, when drivers will take the actual road test.
The temporary licenses will allow drivers to get behind the wheel accompanied by a veteran adult driver. The license will be valid for six months, or until tests are given by authorized driving schools, as the reform plan calls for. Either way, said Katz, the reform would go into effect, and young drivers “will not be held hostage by the examiners.”
The examiners, who work for the Transport Ministry, went on strike March 20, demanding that the government halt its plan to outsource the tests to private driving school teachers. According to government figures, at least 16 private entities have been or will bid on the contract to manage the drivers’ tests in the tender which closes June 15th. Two of those will be chosen to operate the testing service.
Over 50,000 road tests have been cancelled due to the strike, resulting in extensive delays for students who are getting their first license, and creating a shortage of drivers of commercial vehicles, as new drivers cannot get their licenses to replace drivers who are retiring at bus and trucking companies. The temporary license plan is one way to clear up the backlog and ensure that students do not forget what they have learned with their teachers on the road.