Authorities defend driving test

Despite complaints from frustrated learner drivers, authorities say more than half pass their practical test on the first try.

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) said nearly 60 per cent pass the restricted test on the first attempt, and overall the pass rate is more than 50 per cent.

NZTA said the pass rate for teenage drivers was higher than the overall average, at more than 60 per cent.

Nearly 150 parents and novice drivers have contacted APNZ today in response to a story about a testing officer being punched after failing a learner driver at

Meadowlands AA in Auckland on Monday. Many were frustrated at failing the test multiple times.

NZTA spokesman Andrew Knacktstead said the more challenging restricted test was introduced in February 2012 to improve safety of young and novice drivers.

"Road crashes are the single biggest killer of teenagers in New Zealand, and with an average of one teenager killed on New Zealand roads every week in recent years our teen crash rates are among the worst in the developed world,'' he said.

"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.''

Young drivers on a learner licence were encouraged to put in plenty of hours of supervised driving and take advantage of free online resources before sitting the tougher practical test.

One parent said his 18-year-old broke down in tears after failing her restricted driving test for the fifth time.

Glenn Mclaughlin spent $670 on drivers licence tests for his 18-year-old daughter Dana, and has three other teenagers who could be in for a similarly costly experience.

Mr Mclaughlin said Dana has been driving vehicles through paddocks since she started school, and he had never doubted her capabilities behind the wheel.

He sat in on two of the driving tests to see for himself why she was failing.

"On the morning of her last test there were four other people sitting their tests; two who were teenagers and two who were older. All of them failed.''

Mr Mclaughlin said he approached the testing officer and asked whether he was simply revenue collecting, to which he replied that Mr Mclaughlin should take it up with a manager.

"It is so, so hard. Every single time it's a different reason. If they'd said at the first instance 'here's the reason you failed' then we could take it away and practice.''

Mr Mclaughlin said the result of failing so many learner drivers is more illegal motorists on the roads.

He said he knew of many young motorists driving on learner licences from rural parts of Auckland into the city for work because there was no alternative and the tests seemed impossible to pass.

An Auckland mother who didn't want to be named said her son had been failed four times at Meadowlands AA. She estimated the cost of the tests and the time taken off work at $1000.

Another motorist had to sit the test four times.

"The thing that struck me was the lack of consistency and oversight between assessors, locations etc.

"I believe the management of license testing process by various third party private companies leads to inconsistencies in driver capabilities.

"I think that driving should form part of the NCEA curriculum and should be taught as part of school as a standardised, national subject.''

For help with preparing for the driving test, see free resources at: Resources for parents are available at


- By Sophie Ryan of APNZ

Control issues

If inspectors are complaining about the type of car, the hydraulics, and moaning about presenting in a 4WD, then they have control issues, as these are not relevant to licence testing. But vehicles without a WOF should not be on the road, nor should unlicensed drivers. Think about families who've lost children to dangerous drivers before advocating the right to drive to work without restriction.

Does a strict driving test do anything?

There were 81 road deaths in Victoria, Australia in 2013 for a population of 5.7 million (14 deaths per million) and 140 deaths in New Zealand in the past 12 months for a population 4.4 million (31 deaths per million) yet Victoria doesnt have a strict licence test and no Warrant of Fitness. So I think all that the strict system is doing making it harder for young people to drive. Hopefully this isnt the intention. Having transport is vital in getting and holding down a job and furthering education. Maybe young New Zealanders should move to Victoria if they want to drive.

A generation of restricted drivers

Yes, something is amiss. I think the testing officials have been told to fail a certain percentage.  I have 3 sons, two of whom have been on restricted licences for over 5 years now. The best driver of the three failed his restricted 3 times, although pronounced "a great driver" by his driving insructor. One tried the final test some years ago now but failed before he even got into the car - one of the headlight bulbs burned out when the tester turned the lights on. Money and time down the drain. Most of my sons' friends don't have full licences - they are either driving illegally or have had restricted licences for yonks. Is this the way it is supposed to be?

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