High pass rate for learner drivers

Practice pays off

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 11:30 30/07/2012
Amber Powell
Driven to get licence: Lessons and plenty of practice got sixteen year old Amber Powell through her test

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Marlborough drivers sitting their restricted licence test have a higher pass rate than the rest of the country, the New Zealand Transport Agency says.

The restricted licence test was made tougher and longer in February, with learner drivers required to prove their skills in more challenging environments, including being tested in heavier traffic and multi-lane roads.

NZTA national media manager Andy Knackstedt said the pass rate in the Nelson/Marlborough/Tasman region was 55 per cent, higher than the overall national pass rate of 43 per cent.

Under the old test, the pass rate in the Marlborough region was about 85 per cent, and about 80 per cent nationally.

Marlborough Girls' College pupil Amber Powell, 16, passed the test this month, but she put in a lot of practice to do so, she said.

"I passed, but I probably wouldn't have if I didn't have my lessons," she said.

Amber had her learner's licence for a year, and practised driving about twice a week with her dad. She also had three lessons with instructor Heather Richards.

The 45-minute test included a parallel park, driving during rush hour traffic, and showing the examiner how she would de-fog the windows. "I aced the parallel park, which was lucky because it was that or a three-point turn, and I had no power steering because I did it in an old bomb," she said.

NZTA chief executive Geoff Dangerfield said the results from the first five months of the new practical driver test should act as a reminder to learner drivers that a high level of preparation and practice are needed to pass the new tests.

A significant drop in pass rates was expected when the new testing regime was rolled out on February 27, Mr Dangerfield said.

From 2007-2011 there were 602 fatal crashes on New Zealand roads involving young drivers aged between 15-24. Of those, 22 were on roads in the Nelson/Marlborough/Tasman region, Mr Knackstedt said.

Research shows young drivers who complete 120 hours of supervised practice on their learner licence have a solo-driving crash rate 40 per cent lower than those who complete only 50 hours, he said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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