Statement of purpose We analyzed adaptations of state driver licensing agencies (e.g., DMV, BMV, etc.) operation policies during the COVID-19 pandemic across 50 US states. Specifically, we analyzed the contents of policy adaptations related to road testing adaptation, licensure extension and renewals, and re-opening precautions.
Methods/Approach We searched state driver licensing agencies websites across all 50 states, except the District of Columbia, and collected all pages and tabs on policies related to operation practices adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Three coders independently analyzed the policy content and identified subthemes for the three major adaptation areas. Two coders scored each subtheme ranging from 0 to 2, with a higher score indicating stricter COVID-19 precautions. Direct quotes were identified to support each subtheme.
Results All 50 state driver licensing agency policies contained road testing adaptation, and licensure extension and renewals, but 45 (90.0%) contained re-opening precautions. Common re-opening precautions included requiring social distancing (n=30, 60%) and face coverings/PPE (n=29, 58%) inside office buildings. Very few states indicated safety precautions were not required. Nearly all states extended license renewal (n=49, 98%), but extensions varied by time, beginning date, and end date. Most also allowed for online or mail-in renewals (n=43, 86%). Lastly, changes related to road- testing were the least commonly described, with the most common change being the adoption of COVID-19 related precautions during the road test (e.g., sanitizing the vehicle, wearing face coverings/PPE during the test, etc.) (n=22, 44%).
Conclusion While driver licensing agencies in all states made some operation policy adaptations due to COVID-19, these varied by strictness and type of precaution taken. Future studies should examine the influence of these adaptations on driving behaviors and road safety.
Significance Our results contribute to understanding how state agencies adapted their policies to combat COVID-19 and maintain driver safety.
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