Test makes seasoned driver edgy

By Hayley Hannan

APNZ reporter Hayley Hannan sat the new and harder driving test. She passed it, but only just. Photo / Brett Phibbs
APNZ reporter Hayley Hannan sat the new and harder driving test. She passed it, but only just. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Is it harder? Hayley Hannan pits her wits against the new driving test.

My heart is thumping, my hands are clamped in the 10 and two position on a steering wheel and, despite holding my full licence for close to a decade, I'm about to find out if I'm roadworthy.

The tests are, as my AA instructor Matthew Harding puts it, "the full monty".

"I think we've been testing kids only half-heartedly. Now ... hopefully, we'll see a lot better drivers on the road, and in four or five years things will be better out there."

We begin with one of the new features of the restricted test, a 10-minute "cockpit drill". I'm asked to point out the indicators, explain the park, driving and full beam lights, check brake lights, and demonstrate how to de-fog my windscreen, among other small tests.

As we continue the drive towards Herne Bay, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed as I check my rear vision mirror every 10 seconds, and side mirrors nearly as often, look at the long-range traffic ahead, and point out potential hazards as we move.

The first "critical error" rears its head when I fail to indicate left when pulling out of a roundabout. Although Matt doesn't think I would fail for that alone, it could be a test clincher if a driver made a series of mistakes.

Then it's on to a parallel park. Tests will now always feature either a parallel park or a three-point turn, whereas it used to be up to the tester's discretion.

We cruise a few backstreets of Westmere, and complete a three-point turn using only half the road before we finish with a quick blat on the motorway to test my skills in fast-moving traffic.

An hour and 10 minutes later, it's crunch time. So, I ask, would my driving pass the new tests?

"Your driving's not too bad at all. I think you might sneak through, yes."

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 22 Oct 2014 22:11:09 Processing Time: 507ms