Driving school

A driving school in France comes up against a wall of regulations

Under the Ornikar model, students could study for the written test on their own computer. They could take classes and assess the licensed instructors of their choice, book their appointments online, and eliminate another of Mr. Koenig’s frustrations: dealing with an ever-changing team of instructors trashing the methods of the previous .

And Ornikar students could take advantage of a rarely used clause in the regulations that allows individuals to self-register for the exam without paying a fee for this service.

It is highly unlikely that any of the students will ever visit Ornikar’s office in Paris. But, the partners say, they still complied with all regulations, including wheelchair access, a separate area for classroom study and, of course, a TV and DVD player.

But the owners of other driving schools are crying foul. Philippe Colombani, the leader of a school owners’ union, UNIC, which works in a storefront on the outskirts of Paris, said he was well aware of public frustration. A customer set fire to a driving school a few years ago. And he said a female instructor was assaulted recently.

But Ornikar, he said, was breaking the rules everyone had to follow. For example, he said the regulations mandate an enclosed study area that is accessible to people with disabilities. Ornikar, he said, had no such area, and its owners’ claim that helmets would provide privacy simply wasn’t good enough.

“I have people who spend 8,000 euros on construction to make areas handicapped accessible,” he said. “What do I tell them?”

Although his first lawsuit against Ornikar failed to stop him, Colombani said he would continue to challenge Ornikar’s model in court on other issues, such as whether the Ornikar’s use of independent instructors was acceptable.