Houston-area driving schools adapt to pandemic requirements

Thursday, August 20, 2020
How Drivers Ed looks during COVID-19
Here's a look inside one Houston-area driving school where students are not only being taught how to drive, but also how to disinfect their cars.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Drivers Ed is a rite of passage for a lot of high schoolers going back to school, but how do you maintain social distancing while learning to drive? That's the question facing many driving schools in the Houston area.

Pandemic or not, new teen and adult drivers still have to get behind the wheel to learn the rules of the road.

"You're less than six feet apart from each other, so that's where we have an issue with, 'I don't know if I want to be in the car right now,'" Cecilia Jackson, Director of Houston Area Driving Schools, told ABC13.

Jackson says enrollment is down thanks to concerns about COVID-19. On top of that, it has been even harder for students to get a learner's permit from DPS after the state shutdown.

"They're so backlogged and you have to make appointments only," Jackson said. "You can't get an appointment, so our students aren't able to get learner's permits."

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It's a freeway you may take everyday or have found yourself driving on multiple times. But it just topped the list as the dangerous stretch of roadway in the country.

While students wait, they can still take the classroom portion either online or in person, but class looks a lot different.

"They're sitting in the same seat every time," Jackson explained. "We're disinfecting. We're cleaning. They're wearing their masks."

Class size has been cut 50% and students must sit at least six feet apart as part of Gov. Greg Abbott's order.

As for the drive, at Houston Area Driving Schools, all touch points in the car are disinfected, and everyone is in a mask.

"I have the kids clean as well so they can learn to do it so they can clean at home," driving instructor Ronald Phillips told ABC13.

SEE MORE: New study reveals nearly one third of Houston roads are in poor condition

ABC13's Katherine Whaley explains more about the details of this study.

The car gets cleaned all over again when student drivers switch positions.

One way you can help with the DPS appointment backlog is by renewing online.

If your license is expiring, go to texas.gov to see if you are eligible. Most Texas drivers don't even need to go in person to take care of their renewal.

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