Editorial: Drivers are being failed by system

By Doug Laing

Revelations that more than half of the restricted driver licence tests in New Zealand during the last year were failed is much more a condemnation of the system than it is of any individual's dubious knowledge of the right-hand rule and the meaning of double yellow lines.

Surely, the aim of licensing people to drive is to make sure that everyone behind the wheel is competent, and safe.

How this can be achieved when anyone is allowed to teach people to drive so long as they are at the same time themselves legally able to drive is a major issue.

Absurdly, our young people can be taught to drive, and often are, by people who've spent decades of their lives driving without a licence, or, indeed, been perennially disqualified - so long as they've got that piece of paper which says they've finally done and passed the tests, and paid the money.

Sometimes, they're even taught by people who haven't passed the tests, or may have no inclination to any longer go through the rigmarole, or who may even be too young to do the tests themselves.

The absurdity is that people are encouraged to have 120 hours' driving experience before they do the test, although only the general rules of the road govern who does the instructing, and there are no rules about how the 120 hours might be accrued, and who keeps the tally.

The details of latest licensing failure emerged at a Parliamentary select committee hearing, which was told that over the last year there were 27,153 test passes, and 30,619 failures.

Given the importance that a driving licence is to any young person heading out in search of a job or a career, that's a huge number of people who've started off on a pretty bad footing.

New Zealand needs to teach its young people to drive, whatever the cost.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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