Young Nelson motorists are crashing less often, and learners know the rode code better than drivers in other regions, according to statistics from the New Zealand Transport Agency.
Nelson this year recorded New Zealand's second-highest pass rate (73 per cent) for learner licence theory tests, while serious crashes involving teen drivers in the region were less frequent than in previous years, NZTA's regional manager of access and use Kate Styles said.
Nationally, there were 40 fewer fatalities involving young drivers in 2014 than there were in 2008, when 64 teens died on New Zealand roads.
Ms Styles said the region's continued improvement in pass rates showed that young drivers were genuinely applying themselves to the task of learning the road rules, and becoming safe drivers.
"It's encouraging that our new generation of young drivers are increasingly showing that they're willing and ready to get a good understanding of the rules to help them share our roads safely," she said.
NZTA introduced computerised theory testing for learner driver licence tests in late 2009.
The test asks 25 general and 10 class-specific questions, randomly selected from a databank of over 200 questions.
NZTA road safety director Ernst Zollner said it quickly became apparent, after introducing the computerised tests, that the old scratch tests had passed their use-by date. "The old test was more than 10 years old and all of the questions, the answers and their exact sequences were well known.
"It was apparent that many learner licence applicants were memorising the tests and learning by rote rather than actually studying the full road code and learning the road rules."
That meant NZTA expected a drop in pass rates, which was seen in the early days of computerised testing.
"Since that time we've seen the pass rate for computerised theory testing steadily increase as young drivers have gotten the message that they really need to learn the road code before sitting the test," Mr Zollner said.
"That's great news for everyone who uses the road, because we need our newest drivers to be safe drivers who understand the road rules."
Mr Zollner said it was pleasing that the number of fatal and serious injury crashes involving teenage drivers each year has decreased since 2008, but stressed that road crashes were still the single biggest killer of teenagers in New Zealand.
"With an average of one teenager killed on New Zealand roads every week in recent years our teen crash rates were still among the worst in the developed world. That's a situation no-one should accept, and New Zealanders are looking for decisive action to reduce this needless waste of young life and young potential.
"Raising the standard of driving required to gain a licence with more challenging tests is an essential part of the solution."
- © Fairfax NZ News