Lack of practise leads to driver licence test failures
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.
Puke Ruaporo, 18, passed his restricted driver licence test this year.