Driver's licence pass rates differ wildly (+infographic)

By Amelia Romanos

Tougher tests aim to cut discrepancies between one area and another. Photo / Getty Images
Tougher tests aim to cut discrepancies between one area and another. Photo / Getty Images

Whether it has better drivers or kinder testers - Dargaville looks like the place to sit your driver's licence.

Of the 428 people who sat restricted and full licence tests in the Northland town last year, 96 per cent walked away with a successful result.

In contrast, driver-hopefuls might have wanted to avoid Stratford, which had a pass rate of 65 per cent for the 599 who sat the tests.

The results are released as new and tougher tests for restricted drivers are introduced.

New Zealand Transport Agency statistics show pass rates for full and restricted driver's licence tests last year varied markedly from one testing area to another, and the organisation said it hoped to get more consistency under new testing rules that come into force today.

Neither Dargaville nor Stratford police were able to put their finger on what was responsible for the dramatic difference.

Dargaville Senior Sergeant Robert Nordstrom rejected the theory that his town had better drivers, saying what he saw on the roads was no different from other places, with normal levels of traffic offences.

"You haven't got the volume of traffic but we have bloody tricky intersections on state highways which are uncontrolled other than by give way signs."

Other testing centres chalking up high pass rates included Timaru, Rangiora, Kaikoura, and Gore, all with 92 per cent.

Although several centres had 100 per cent pass rates, including Great Barrier Island, Ruatoria and Ohakune, they did fewer than 30 tests and only for restricted licences.

Auckland's Easy Driving School, at Westgate in Henderson, and Manukau's Jon Chen AA both registered 65 per cent pass rates.

Waihi also had lower results, with 68 per cent of its 731 applicants getting pass marks.

Auckland's NZ Sikh Women's Association posted the lowest pass rate - 30 per cent - although the centre performed only six restricted and four full licence tests last year.

Of the centres that tested more than 2000 people, Hastings and Christchurch's Papanui and Jipcho Rd centres passed the most people, with pass rates of 88 per cent, 84 per cent, and 83 per cent respectively.

Of the bigger centres, Auckland's Takanini with a 70 per cent pass rate, Kilbirnie in Wellington with 72 per cent and New Plymouth with 75 per cent handed over the lowest number of licences.

NZTA spokesman Andy Knackstedt said the level of difficulty varied between centres and that was partly responsible for the new rules.

The number of centres offering the test will be cut from 88 to 52.

"One of the reasons some of those locations are not going to be offering restricted tests is because they don't have the traffic volumes or the complexities in the roads themselves to offer that level of challenge," Mr Knackstedt said.

Dargaville and Stratford have been slashed from the list of centres offering restricted tests.

"The restricted's definitely going to be tougher, and the full is going to be more of a check that you've kept up your skills."

The new test has been designed to encourage learner drivers to do at least 120 hours of supervised practice before sitting their licence.

NZTA chief executive Geoff Dangerfield said: "The more experience drivers gain in the learner licensing phase, the less likely they are to crash when they begin driving alone."


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