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

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