Rumours a driving test introduced two years ago are causing people to fail are being quashed by the NZ Transport Agency.
The NZTA sets the standard for all driving tests and introduced new class 1 (car) restricted and full driver licence tests on February 27, 2012.
A new driving test was introduced two years ago and is now facing criticism with a pass rate of less than 50 per cent.
Since then, more than 4965 restricted licence tests have been sat at AA Tauranga with a pass rate of 48 per cent.
In August 2014, 213 people sat their restricted licence test at the same location, with a 59 per cent pass rate.
NZ Transport Agency principal advisor driver testing and training standards, Jim Furneaux, says a test can only be “unfair” if it sets out to “trap” or confound the candidate in some manner and this is not now, nor has it ever been the case.
“Pass/fail rates consistently vary due to a number of factors. All the information a candidate needs to know to prepare for the test is freely available on the NZTA website.
“None of the sites show a pass/fail rate that is indicative of an issue with the test routes at that sire, so the pass rate is just as likely to be related to the level of preparation undertaken by the applicants as any other factor.
“Testing officers simply have to test according to the requirements of the relevant test, and the candidate’s score when compared to the test criteria then determine if the test is passed of failed.”
Jim says that should not be confused with any criteria that might be used to ensure the test criteria is being consistently applied.
When asked what people typically fail on, Jim says it varies but some of the most common issues noted are failing to signal, failing to stop or give way, and exceeding the speed limit.
“All relatively easily fixed when you think about it.”
The NZ Automobile Association is offering leaner licence drivers free driving lessons for eligible members.
AA Ignition represents an investment of more than $2 million, and promotional material says the lessons it provides will “deliver the best possible kick-start towards staying safe behind the wheel”.
AA Driving School general manager Nigel Clark says lessons from professional instructors are essential to improve driving standards in New Zealand.
“For many young people learning to drive is a time that is filled with challenges and uncertainty. Professional driving instructors ensure new drivers have the best start on the road to getting a full driver licence.”
Nearly half of Western Bay learner drivers fail their restricted test, a figure only fractionally higher than the national average, according to the NZTA.
Their statistics show that between February 2012 and April 2013, 1224 learner drivers in the Western Bay passed, while 1111 failed; that’s a pass rate of 52 per cent.
Nigel says the introduction of the new test is to ensure younger drivers are better prepared to tackle the road solo.
“Since the launch of the Free Driving Lesson programme in July last year, we’ve delivered more than 5,000 free lessons to learner drivers. It is an invaluable step towards becoming the safest and most confident drivers on New Zealand roads.”
Nigel says the initial free lesson also gives parents who choose to ride along a better understanding of how best to provide supervised driving practice for their children.
“Learner drivers need the right combination of professional driving lessons with plenty of supervised practice between them. This ensures they develop the necessary skills and knowledge to get through every stage of the driver licence process and become safe, confident and responsible drivers.”
AA has recruited 50 new driving instructors around the country, in preparation for today’s launch, and estimate that every learner who completes AA Ignition will receive services worth around $200.
“Our AA Ignition programme means the right steps are taken at the start of the learning to drive journey," Nigel says.
"Improving roads and safer cars are crucial, but it’s equally important to have better drivers behind the wheel.”
The programme is an AA Member benefit, and eligibility criteria are available on their website. [link: http://www.aa.co.nz/drivers/aa-ignition ]