The written exam to obtain driving privileges in Nevada is proving difficult for immigrants applying for authorization cards under a new state law.
In the first three days since the cards became available on Jan. 2, officials with the Department of Motor Vehicles said the failure rate for the written test was 71 percent, about 14 percentage points higher than the rate for the general population of new drivers.
On the flip side, 70 percent who have taken the driver skill test have passed.
The disparity suggests immigrants who are eager for a chance to legally operate a motor vehicle on Nevada roadways are more adept at the practical side of driving than the rules of the road.
Questions on the written test can include anything covered in the driver’s handbook available online or at DMV offices, said David Fierro, DMV spokesman in Carson City.
“What we tell people is, study that handbook,” Fierro said. “All the questions on the written tests are there.”
The guide covers everything from the familiar to the not-so-apparent.
Recognizing a stop sign or knowing what a yellow traffic light signals may be no-brainers. But how long does it take to stop on an icy road if you’re traveling 30 mph? Answer: 373 feet.
If you double your speed, say from 30 mph to 60 mph, what is the increase in braking distance? Answer: four times as far.
And when it comes to parking, it is illegal to park within 50 feet of the nearest rail of a railroad; within 15 feet of a fire hydrant if parallel parking or 20 feet if angle parking; or within 75 feet of a fire station driveway if parking across the road from the entrance.
The DMV wouldn’t say if such questions are on the test. But Fierro stressed they could be.
The test involves 50 multiple choice questions. The tests are generated by the DMV computer system and there are tens of thousands of variations. A score of 80 percent, or 40 correct answers, is needed to pass.
Thousands of people turned out on Jan. 2 when Nevada’s driver authorization cards first became available, and many didn’t realize that they would be required to take the exam the same day.
“People weren’t as prepared as they should have been,” Fierro said, adding part of the reason might be that they are unfamiliar with the process.
“There’s a learning curve for them here.”