Nearly 50 percent fail DMV driving test in Reno; instructor might know why
More than 12,000 people take the driving test in Reno every year to get their licenses. But nearly half of them fail.
One private driving instructor thinks he knows why, and he even offered advice to pass the test.
Stephen Shaw owns ABC Drive Safe. He took News 4 on the same route as the state-issued driving test.
"What they're looking for are so many things in such a small area. You really don't have a lot of latitude for error," Shaw said.
Shaw guided us through the streets around the north side of Reno. We weaved through some industrial neighborhoods, wide one-way roads and lots of construction. He saw students driving the same routes a day earlier with a state examiner.
"Look at how dense this is here," Shaw said as we crawled past orange pylons, barricades and construction workers. "For the average person, this is a lot to take in and have the judgment to drive in a safe manner," he said.
The test also included a blind, busy corner where it was very difficult to pull out into traffic on Mill Street.
Mary Ellis, the supervisor for all the DMV Driving Instructors said the routes are part of real-life driving experience.
"This is where you're going to be driving your car. This is the traffic you need to know how to drive in," Ellis said. "(The test) is not difficult, it's not. It's normal driving that you have every single day."
But something is different at the Reno office. Of the more than 12,000 driving tests in 2016, 46 percent failed. Compare that to Carson City, where 26 percent of 4,500 failed.
The state didn't have a reason for the increase in failures but said all Nevada driving tests have the same number or requirements.
"State requirements, you have to have three right turns, three lefts, a stop sign, a traffic light, a school zone and of course parallel parking," Ellis said.
And she said said the instructors aren't more strict in the Reno office.
Driving instructor Shaw believes it's the congested, sometimes confusing Reno streets. He tells his students to take the test anywhere but Reno.
"I say go to Carson, go to Yerington, go to Fallon," he said.
But the state doesn't recommend that option because it can create a back-log in the other offices where there are fewer instructors. Students who live in those communities may not be able to get in to take the driving test.