Failure rates spike after overhaul of florida written driver’s license test k electric jobs 2016


State officials expected some applicants would have trouble adjusting to a new written test implemented in January but acknowledge it erupted into an unexpected problem when they discovered more than 80 percent of drivers in some counties were unable to pass.

That has prompted state officials to dig through the test looking for flawed questions and removing them from future exams to try to lift test scores, said Boyd Dickerson-Walden, director of the division of motor services for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Failing can be a time-consuming and expensive problem for drivers, but it’s a financial boon for private companies that offer practice courses and written tests online. Also reaping a payoff from higher failures and retakes: the Nevada vendor paid to develop the harder test, which receives more than $4 every time someone takes the test from a private company in Florida.

Just 41 percent of the state’s 310,000 test takers could pass the one -hour exam during the first six months of 2015, according to records provided by the DHSMV. That is nearly 20 percentage points behind the pass rate before the test was overhauled in January. And the numbers have been even worse in small counties like Lake and Holmes where more than four out of five test takers failed early in the year.

"It was a shock to the system," said Dale Hoffman of the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s Office, which has seen only 42 percent of people pass the written exam through the first six months of 2015. "We are doing everything we can to warn new drivers to be prepared when you come in to take it."

The overhaul of what was viewed as an outdated exam came at a time when Florida’s crash numbers for teen drivers had been getting worse. In 2010, teens were involved in more than 26,000 traffic accidents, according to the DHSMV. That grew by 35 percent to more than 36,180 by 2013, the most recent numbers available. And since 2010, an average of 78 teen drivers have been killed on Florida roads annually.

Jamyia Cross was less intimidated, breezing through the 50 test questions in less than half an hour. The 21-year-old South Tampa woman, applying for her first driver’s license, said she found the test easy. She did prepare by studying the Florida Driver’s Handbook and taking online practice tests.

The 50 questions come from a pool of more than 1,000 to assure tests are different for each driver and limit chances of fraud. Those new questions require people to know about safe driving distances, where they will find slippery roads, specifics of the state’s texting and driving law, and what should happen if four cars arrive at a four-way stop sign at the same time.

The tougher test has had "goofy" questions that have likely contributed to the high failure rates, said David Jordan of the Lake County Tax Collectors Office. He said he is all for making teens better drivers, but said asking questions about the proper length of a trailer hitch or what a brown fluid under a parked car might mean — as some of the tests have quizzed — might have been too much.

"The Florida Driver’s Manual is over 100 pages long and 72% of all people taking the test have failed in the last year," warns one site called, which offers drivers their study guide for $10, despite the state’s 104-page handbook being free.

The failures are also good news for the test makers. Solutions Thru Software makes more money with each additional exam taken through third-party test providers, like online driving schools, where nearly one-third of the tests have been taken this year.

The company makes $4.42 apiece on the first half million tests taken in Florida through private companies. State officials say the state has already had more than 85,000 tests taken that way since February. The state pays Solutions Thru Software nothing for tests administered by tax collectors’ offices.

The number of tests administered in Florida in 2015 is on pace to surpass last year. In 2014, the state administered 601,000 of the old "Rules of the Road" 20-question exam. This year, through six months, the state already has had 310,000 tests according to data provided by DHSMV spokesman John Lucas.

The company won the Florida contract over two other companies — Juno Systems and Morpho Trust USA — based on higher scores on a bid evaluation process in August 2012, state records show. One of the deciding factors in Solutions Thru Software‘s selection was the company’s price proposal, which got it the maximum rating in the bid scoring tabulations compared with its competitors.

DHSMV chief of staff Leslie Palmer told aides to Scott and the Cabinet that the agency has committed to reaching a passing rate of 70 percent on the new test this year. However, in almost the same breath, Palmer told the aides it’s an unlikely goal given no one at the department could ever recall a time when more than 63 percent of people could pass even the older test.