Corona Letdown

We are living in historic times. I hope we can all look back on this chapter in history and say “Oh yeah, remember when some States shut all businesses down, and we all had to wear masks?” Sadly, as I write this article the situation is still very real and raw to most us. I am writing to address specifically the issue with NJ MVC aka DMV. The DMV has been closed since mid-March. They have thus far postponed their opening 6 times! Hundreds of thousands of people are frustrated. People need to register vehicles that they purchased. Some people can renew their licenses and registration online, but many renewals are not available online. Teens and their parents are anxiously awaiting the re-opening so that they may obtain an initial permit, or take their road test. As of the publish date of this article, the New Jersey Motor Vehicles is set to open on June 8 2020. I would put the chances of that happening at 50/50. There is a lot of mounting pressure on Governor Murphy as well as the DMV Director Sue Fulton to open ASAP, but so far they have been able to resist the pressure. Therefore, it is anyone’s guess if they will cave to the pressure or continue to resist. Governor Murphy is notorious for ambiguous guidelines as to when things will open. The NJ MVC has taken a page out of his guidebook. Their website used to list projected dates for opening. Now they just say that they are closed due to Covid-19, with no projected dates anymore. A week? A month? Will they perhaps just open in January of 2021? No one seems to know. There is a rumor circulating that they are aiming for July 6. I have heard from one credible source that this is being considered strongly.

Meanwhile, according to my estimates there are over 55,000 people who missed out on their road tests due to the NJ DMV closing. When and how the MVC will make that up is extremely unclear. On their website they claim that they will hire more personnel. I am not sure how they expect that to happen. I have spoken to insiders and there is currently no training program going on to train in new hires to give the test. In addition, many of the DMV employees are in the 45 plus age bracket, which puts them in the moderate to high risk category. I can only imagine how many of them will not want to come back to work right away, and who can blame them!?

The lines at the NJ MVC agencies were insane in March BC (this is the new term I have coined for date references. It stands for Before Corona). Does anyone remember the 3 or more hour wait times in the DMV? That was when they were at FULL staffing capacity! One can only imagine what the lines will be when they open again. They will have customers from the times of March, April, May and some of June AC (After Corona) at the very least, and that is on top of those who are scheduled to come in for new appointments and services for the time that they open. The longer they stay closed the more logistically impossible it will be to re-open.

This is not just an informative rant. I actually do have a proposal. The NJ MVC should take advantage of this “down time” and use it to hire more employees for the agencies and train them in. if they can hire enough employees, they can even rent temporary locations to handle specific transactions. For instance, they can set up a small mobile trailer in a parking lot, and that will be designated just for purchasing permits, as an example. Customers can set up appointments in advance by phone or online. They will be told clearly at the time of scheduling what documentation will be required when they show up at their appointed time. They will then be able to wait in their car in the parking lot, and will be called or get a text when they are to come to the mobile office to complete the transaction. Smooth, efficient and no gathering of groups. Everything is confirmed beforehand so there is no misunderstanding of what documents are needed, which was so often the case BC.

Regarding the road test, I may have a conflict of interest here, but I do think the wisest course for the State would be to outsource and have driving schools give the test to those who missed it. There is precedence for such an action. There was proposed NJ legislation a few years back asking to have ALL road tests given by driving schools. Obviously there would need to be guidelines set in place. One such example is that only one who has been an instructor for a year or longer can give the test. Otherwise, what is to stop a driving school from hiring 20 people off the street who are not qualified, just so they can cash in on this and give more road tests. Besides, the road test should be given by an experienced professional, who is safe and knows what to look for regarding safe driving habits. There would also need to be DMV oversight. This can all be easily arranged IF the DMV takes action now. We need to prevent issues, NOT correct them! I actually sent this proposal regarding road tests to the NJ MVC director, Sue Fulton over a month ago, but I have not yet received a reply. I am hoping that is due to the letter and email both getting lost, as opposed to her ignoring it. I truly do feel that it got lost in the shuffle, as the director does have a reputation of being open to change as needed. I am therefore hoping that perhaps the writing of this article will help bring all of these points to light. Hopefully it will be in time.

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