Sitting your driving test? Stay out of the cities, pass rates show video

David Walker

Reporters Brittany Mann and Martin van Beynen, took a driving test in Christchurch in 2015 to gauge their skills on the roads. How did they fare?

When it comes to sitting your restricted driving test, one crucial factor could stand between success and failure: Where you live.

Data shows that failure rates for restricted licence tests vary wildly around the country. 

It reveals that one city has a dubious honour. Well over half of its drivers flunk the test, a woefully low rate of success by New Zealand standards.

An analysis of pass rates from all 61 testing stations New Zealand-wide shows more people succeed in the regions than in cities.

READ MORE: 
Kiwi drivers' epic fail in driving tests
Christchurch driving tests seen as 'too tough'


While there are some exceptions, the data suggests an easy rule of thumb: more people pass in quiet areas.

Last year, VTNZ in Glenfield north of Auckland had the highest success rate nation-wide, with 85 per cent passing.

It was the first year the station had operated, meaning there was no data from previous years.

The lowest pass rate was at VTNZ Lower Hutt, where 37 per cent passed.

In a double blow for the Hutt, its other testing station also had an unusually low pass rate over the last two years.

Together, more than half of Hutt drivers flunked the test, making it the city with the highest failure rate.

On the other end of the spectrum, Invercargill is the city with the highest average pass rate, with 80 per cent over the last two years.

It was followed by Blenheim, Kaitaia, Gore, and Westport, which all gave licences to at least three in every four applicants.  

They were all well above the nation-wide pass rate of around 60 per cent.

The station with the highest consistent failure rate is AA Westgate, in Auckland. For two years running it passed 43 per cent of applicants.

It's only 20 minutes away from the VTNZ in Glenfield, where applicants pass at double the rate: the highest and lowest success rates in New Zealand are virtually down the road from each other.

There's a similarly odd difference in Christchurch.

The VTNZ in Sockburn has a pass rate just over 50 per cent, the lowest in the city. But at the new testing station in Northwood, the pass rate was 82 per cent last year, despite both stations being a short distance from each other.

The differing pass rates between stations did not worry the NZTA, which said it focussed on quality and consistency in testing, not pass rates.

The key reason for the differences came down to preparedness.

"At some sites testing officers have reported that driving instructors are presenting large numbers of students for tests who are well-prepared and confident, which is having a positive impact on pass rates in those locations," said Robyn Elston, NZTA national manager for delivery.

Pass rates also varied for the computerised theory test, which location would have no bearing on, she said.

Broadly speaking, more people were passing the test each year. Virtually all stations had higher pass rates in 2015 than they did the year before.

Since the more difficult test was introduced in 2012, the national pass rate had increased from around 40 per cent to over 60 per cent.

"As word has spread that the new test is more challenging many drivers seem to have taken that message on board and put in more practice and preparation before sitting the test," Elston said.

 

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A driving test in Manawatu. An analysis of pass rates from all 61 testing stations New Zealand-wide shows more people ...
DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ.

A driving test in Manawatu. An analysis of pass rates from all 61 testing stations New Zealand-wide shows more people succeed in the regions than in cities.

 - Stuff

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