By Jane Bautista, Inquirer News
Starting April 15, the fees charged by driving schools nationwide for theoretical and practical driving courses will be more affordable, hopefully turning Filipino motorists into better drivers.
On Wednesday, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) announced that it would be imposing a price cap on the courses which must be taken by those applying for a driving license.
Under the LTO’s “Omnibus guidelines on the accreditation, supervision and control of driving institutions, and the standardization of driver and conductor’s education,” the maximum prescribed rate for a 15-hour theoretical driving course (TDC) should be P1,000.
For an eight-hour practical driving course (PDC), the maximum rates would be P2,500 for motorcycles, P4,000 for light vehicles, such as cars, and P8,000 for heavy vehicles like trucks and buses.
LTO chief Jose Arturo Tugade said at a press briefing that under the new omnibus guidelines, the driving school fees would be reduced by over 50 percent, adding that they had received reports that some schools were charging as much as P20,000.
“These maximum prescribed rates were formed in response to the appeal of many of our countrymen who are crying over high charges but [these] can also be considered a fair step for driving schools that have also invested [in their businesses],” he said.
“[Let] this be a warning that we will impose the sanctions provided in the omnibus guidelines if you will not abide by the policy,” Tugade added.
First-time violators face a fine of P50,000 and suspension for six months while those caught a second time will be fined P100,000 and suspended for a year. On the third offense, the driving school’s accreditation will be revoked, Tugade said.
The new guidelines also reduced the required number of days for applicants to complete the mandatory 15-hour TDC. From three days, they can now finish the course in two days—seven hours on the first day and eight hours on the next day—within a month.
Driving schools were likewise ordered to enter the details of all driving license applicants in the Land Transportation Management System, particularly the dates they take the TDC following issues over the nonappearance of some who still ended up with a certificate.
“Registration of his/her biometrics before and after every session for attendance purposes is required. The driving institution shall provide and maintain an attendance sheet to record the actual presence of the applicant during the conduct of the face-to-face TDC and written examination or validation,” the LTO said.
It came up with the new maximum prescribed rates following consultative meetings with stakeholders and different driving schools.
Tugade said they considered certain economic factors, assumptions on how many students would be enrolling in the driving schools and the schools’ operating expenses.
Republic Act No. 10930 mandated the LTO to implement prerequisites and guidelines in ensuring that only those with “sufficient” driving skills and road safety knowledge would be given a driver’s license.
While there was no prescribed maximum fees under the law, LTO Executive Director Giovanni Lopez said they opted to regulate the charges because “driving schools are imbued with public interest.”