Long waits for driver training, with new COVID-19 safety measures in place
EDMONTON -- Alberta’s driver training centres are dealing with a backlog of students trying to get in-car experience, after the pandemic shut them down for more than three months.
The Alberta Motor Association resumed classes July 2, and says it will likely take months to get caught up.
"We have quite a few instructors that are really doing more than what they would normally do [to get back on schedule],” said John Sibbons, a senior AMA instructor.
Classes were cancelled back in March when the pandemic shut down most of the world. AMA says it spent the downtime working on its protocols to get students back on the road safely.
"We have to make sure the vehicle is sanitized,” Sibbons said. "Make sure everything is kept clean, and make sure what they are doing is still safe on the road.”
The new in-car measures include mandatory masks, plastic seat coverings that are removed between sessions, as well as hand sanitizer or disposable gloves.
Anyone who feels ill can also postpone their session for free, but there’s no shortage of students willing to get behind the wheel as soon as possible.
"A lot of them are just biting at the bit to try and get their licence and get on the road as fast as they can," AMA instructor Terry Ma said.
In-class sessions have reduced capacity, adding to the bottleneck of students trying to get experience. AMA says it has expanded and enhanced its online learning options to help alleviate that issue.
"This is going to be the new normal for the time being,” Ma said. "It’s going to be a learning curve for everyone."