Drivers education faces backlog due to pandemic

Ottawa County

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — The coronavirus pandemic has changed many things in our daily lives, including one industry that’s facing a backlog right now: driver’s training.

Normally in a driver’s training class, you wouldn’t have to worry about wearing a mask or not being able to use your own car for lessons.

That’s now the reality for those in the industry. They say they’re working to overcome these new challenges.

“We were shut down right at the beginning of our peak,” said Dave Muma, the owner of Century Driving School in Hudsonville.

Muma says the transition during the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been easy.

“It’s forced people to be patient in a different way,” said Muma. “It’s harder to plan ahead and we’ve actually asked all of our clientele base to be put on a wait list.”

Muma says that wait list is longer than normal. 

The business closed down in March due to the state’s rules and didn’t reopen until June 2.

“If some of them waited and were hoping to take classes in maybe in April or May and hoping to get their driver’s license in October or November, there’s going to be a delay,” said Muma.

Another hardship the industry faces is a decrease in class sizes. A traditional in-person classroom session would hold 36 students and now that number is down to 10.

“Now the state has reduced that even though we could actually keep everybody at 6 feet in certain facilities and we’re prepared to be able to do that,” said Muma.

On the bright side, Muma says the transition when it comes to disinfecting has been pretty smooth.

“Definitely more PPE, everybody’s wearing masks. We’re cleaning in between, we’re using hand sanitizer as well,” said Muma.

He encourages anyone looking to get their driver’s license soon to sign up now as there will be a wait before they’re put in a class.

Under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s guidelines, driving schools are classified as social gatherings which is why classroom sessions are limited to 10 people: nine students and one instructor. This is unlike bars and restaurants which are still allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity.

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