It’s only two questions out of 40.
But advocates for bicycle and pedestrian safety in Idaho see it as a real victory for raising awareness of the rules of the road (and sidewalk) for everyone in transit — not just motorists.
There are more than 200 vehicle crashes involving bicyclists or pedestrians each year in Ada County, according to Idaho Transportation Department data. Concern about collisions peaked last fall after 5-year-old Max Wyatt was struck by a minivan while riding his bicycle home from school with his dad.
The boy was critically injured and spent two months at a Salt Lake hospital getting treatment; he’s now back home with his family. The driver, Scholastique Twagirayesu, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor inattentive driving.
After that incident, Jimmy Hallyburton of Boise Bicycle Project said he sought a meeting with Gov. Butch Otter to talk about solutions.
“One of the things identified was mandatory questions on the driver’s test,” said Hallyburton. He added, “It doesn’t cost a lot of money, and it helps people in a systematic way.”
Jeanne Purcell, driver’s license specialist at ITD for 19 years, said Department of Motor Vehicles Director Alan Frew asked for the questions to be added to the driver’s test.
“I think the awareness has been there for a while,” Purcell said. “I think the (Wyatt) accident put it over the edge where we needed to take action.”
Since January, everyone taking the driver’s license test has had to answer two questions about the rules governing bicycles and pedestrians. The DMV declined to share any of the questions (or answers) with the Statesman because they want people to study the driver’s manual.
Transportation officials have developed a pool of 88 questions on all topics; the 40 that test takers get are generated at random by DMV computers. The two bicycle/pedestrian questions now included in each test are drawn from a pool of 11 possible questions. Nothing new was added to the driver’s manual.
Steve Grant, an ITD spokesman, said test takers are doing well on the new bicycle/pedestrian questions. Data show they are entering the correct answer on those questions 88 to 96 percent of the time, except for one question about passing bicycles that has a 65 percent pass rate.
Test takers can get up to six questions wrong on the driver’s test and still pass. Want to test your knowledge of bicycle safety? Take our 10-question quiz, or ITD has a 50-question Idaho bicycle safety quiz on its website, itd.gov.