Fewer pass restricted licence driver test

It is harder to pass the new driving test, South Canterbury figures for the six months since changes to the testing regime show.

Pass rates for the new restricted-licence practical driver test have gone from 80 per cent to 52 per cent.

It follows a rollout of harder restricted driver licence tests in February aimed at making young and novice drivers safer when first driving unsupervised.

Under the changes, learner licence-holders are encouraged to get 120 hours of supervised driving practice before sitting a practical test. The test comprises two stages and takes about one hour to complete.

It includes conducting a pre-drive vehicle safety check, a 45-minute practical drive and feedback to the applicant on their performance at the end of the test.

The on-road practical test takes 10 minutes and consists of simple driving tasks designed to determine whether the applicant is a sufficiently skilled and safe driver.

Applicants also take a 35-minute test where they are required to perform harder tasks in moderately challenging environments.

New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) chief executive Geoff Dangerfield said a significant drop in pass rates had been expected.

"The new test is more challenging, and a higher standard of driving is needed to pass.

"We need to remember this new test is about reducing deaths and injuries on our roads, improving the standards of learner drivers and encouraging them to take time to develop their skills and build a solid foundation before they move on to the next stage of the licensing system; we were doing learner drivers no favours with a once over lightly approach."

South Canterbury road safety co-ordinator Daniel Naude said pass rates were expected to increase as people got used to the system.

"We expected pass rates to initially decrease because of the increased difficulty of the tests."

He said pass rates would improve when drivers took steps to improve their knowledge and skills.

"If you don't put a lot of effort in you don't get a licence; getting a driver licence is not a right."

NZTA crash statistics show that road crashes are the single biggest killer of teenagers in New Zealand.

More than 700 teens have died in road crashes in the past decade, with an average of one killed every week in recent years.

The Timaru Herald