Those that frequently drive from home to work or school know that the country’s roads are not exactly the safest places to drive on. This is proven by annual road accident statistics over the past couple of years. There’s no shortage of video proof either on social media.
The Land Transportation Office (LTO) has been made aware of this as well by no less than the President. Early in his term, he urged the LTO to enact stricter measures to weed out those undeserving of the privilege to drive.
The agency has obliged with several measures such as the Motor Vehicle Inspection System (MVIS) to monitor vehicle roadworthiness, digitizing the parts of the application process through LTO’s online portal, as well as requiring driving seminars and tests even for those just renewing their license.
The latter has drawn the most controversy as the mandatory driving seminar can take anywhere from four hours to as long as 16 hours, depending on the type of license and the number of offenses the applying driver has.
Furthermore, these have to be taken either at LTO offices or accredited driving schools. They’re absolutely free when taken at the LTO, however, accredited driving schools may charge a fee for this. After, applicants are required to take an exam to prove that they have learned something.
Of course, there is also an incentive for well-behaved drivers as the LTO is offering a driver’s license with a 10-year validity to those with spotless records (no offenses or tickets during their last validity).
Yet, with COVID-19 still very much present in our country, sharing a room with several other people for several hours to attend a seminar is a scary proposition.
It’s a sentiment shared by Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro 2nd district Rep. Rufus Rodriguez. The congressman recently prodded the agency to suspend this requirement, not only because it can be potentially expensive for some, but also because these seminars can possibly spread the virus.
“The convergence of people at this time in LTO offices, many of which are just cramped spaces in malls, could be a virus superspreader,” he said.
I’m all for the seminar, even if I have to retake it myself. Yet the Congressman also has a point about it being a potential superspreader.
The LTO at least has a safer alternative for the test itself. As part of its push to make transactions more efficient and free of fixers, the LTO’s proprietary website for most transactions, the LTO Management System (LTMS) Portal, is already up. Here at least, the test has already been uploaded and can be taken by anyone planning to renew their license.
First, an applicant has to verify that they are eligible (as evidenced under the demerits section in your LTMS portal account), then they’ll need to take a CDE or Comprehensive Driving Examination in the website. It’s listed in the LTMS Portal as the “Online Validation Exam” which was under the “E-Learning” tab. There are about 60 questions asking a variety of motoring rules concerning road safety, protocols, and the like. Once they pass the test, they can print a certificate that shows that they have indeed successfully taken the said exam. The result is also forwarded to the LTO, however, it’s best to print your own copy.
This certainly eliminates the likelihood of any applicant getting a test with the answers already on it for a free-pass to a license. And if this component can be put online, shouldn’t it possible to put the seminar online as well?
The seminar can be chopped into shorter videos that an applicant has to click on and watch to the end manually. Another option is daily Zoom or Google Meets seminars. This way, and by requiring cameras to be on, the LTO can verify that applicants are indeed paying attention.
These are just some of the ways the requirement can be met without the risk of spreading the virus. All it takes is a little resourcefulness.
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