Lack of prac­tise leads to driver li­cence test fail­ures

Manawatu Standard - - Front Page - MIRI SCHROETER

Al­most half of New Zealan­ders sit­ting re­stricted driver li­cences are fail­ing, with a lack of prac­tise be­hind the wheel be­ing blamed.

Young drivers of­ten don’t iden­tify haz­ards well and tend to do much bet­ter when they get pro­fes­sional lessons, ex­perts say.

Statis­tics from the NZ Trans­port Agency show 45 per cent of peo­ple who sat a re­stricted li­cence in New Zealand, from Jan­uary to Novem­ber this year, failed.

This is the high­est fail­ure rate since 2014, when it was also at 45 per cent, and it has not dipped be­low 40 per cent in the past four years.

Palmer­ston North’s fail rate is higher than the na­tional av­er­age, with 47 per cent fail­ing a class 1 re­stricted car li­cence this year.

The city also has a slightly higher fail rate for peo­ple sit­ting a full driver’s li­cence test, at 37 per cent, com­pared with the na­tional fail rate of 33 per cent.

A push to im­prove the driv­ing of young peo­ple is among Govern­ment moves to en­sure stu­dents leave school with broader skills.

In Au­gust, the Labour Party promised free driv­ing lessons for all sec­ondary school stu­dents, as well as free test­ing for re­stricted and full li­cences.

The suc­cess rate for prac­ti­cal tests shoots up when drivers take ad­van­tage of lessons be­fore­hand.

Tararua Com­mu­nity Youth Ser­vices youth worker Richard Har­ri­son said about 60 peo­ple sat li­cences through the cen­tre, be­tween July and Novem­ber, and all of them passed.

‘‘It’s about iden­ti­fy­ing what haz­ards are, and pre­par­ing young peo­ple to un­der­stand and know what that is.’’

Tararua res­i­dent Puke Rua­poro, 18, passed his learner’s and re­stricted on the first try, with help from the youth cen­tre.

Had he not re­ceived help, Rua­poro said he prob­a­bly would have failed.

Each time Rua­poro thought he was ready to sit his re­stricted, he would take a prac­tice test with an in­struc­tor.

‘‘When they did that, they told me I wasn’t there, so I did some more prac­tis­ing.’’

The cen­tre gave him a car to drive in and sup­port that his fam­ily could not of­fer, Rua­poro said.

A1 Driv­ing School in­struc­tor Clin­ton Crabbe said peo­ple would of­ten come to him when they had al­ready failed a driv­ing test.

Many learner drivers sim­ply lacked ex­pe­ri­ence. ‘‘Peo­ple are try­ing to do their test with­out do­ing enough driv­ing.’’

Peo­ple also needed to prac­tise at home so the skills they ac­quired dur­ing pro­fes­sional driv­ing lessons weren’t lost, Crabbe said.

Cen­tral District road polic­ing man­ager In­spec­tor Brett Calkin said it would help if every learner could be put through a free de­fen­sive driv­ing course.

‘‘That helps make peo­ple safe and more con­sid­er­ate drivers, but there is a sig­nif­i­cant cost in do­ing that.’’

In Manawatu¯ and sur­round­ing dis­tricts, Hori­zons Re­gional Coun­cil helps fund driv­ing pro­grammes.

Hori­zons road safety co­or­di­na­tor Deb­bie Web­ster said the coun­cil gave funds to seven or­gan­i­sa­tions. Tararua Com­mu­nity Youth Ser­vices re­ceived $5000 this year.

PHOTO: WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

Puke Rua­poro, 18, passed his re­stricted driver li­cence test this year.

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