Russell Blackstock

Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Driver test route a fail

Instructor says driving route puts road users at risk

Nikki Stanyon has to resit the test.  Photo / Doug Sherring
Nikki Stanyon has to resit the test. Photo / Doug Sherring

A veteran driving instructor claims parts of tougher new test routes are potentially dangerous for learner drivers.

Open Road Driving School owner Matthew Harding, from Auckland, said he feared for some candidates on busy test courses which start at the Westgate shopping centre in Massey.

"Some of the things learners are being asked to do by testers I wouldn't be comfortable doing myself," Harding said. "Some of the manoeuvres are unsafe. People think they are being set up to fail."

NZTA introduced the tough new test in February. Of 27,568 tests, just 12,123 people have passed. It was revealed in last week's Herald on Sunday that learner drivers had paid more than $650,000 to resit the test, which cost $88 each time.

Areas of concern include:

- A U-turn across a double yellow centre line from a layby near the start of an 80km/h zone.
- A poorly marked approach to a roundabout confuses candidates about which lane to be in.
- A switch from a passing lane to a slow lane and back, before a right turn on to open road.

"The old test was too easy but we have gone way too far the other way," Harding said, adding good drivers were "gutted" at failing repeatedly.

NZTA spokesman Ewart Barnsley said people who believed they had unfairly failed the test should follow the process on the agency's website.

Two tries, two fails

Nikki Stanyon and Louis Hall both failed their tests at Massey this week, within minutes of each other.

Stanyon, 18, looked shellshocked at the news. "I was failed on a reverse parallel park and a critical error for going over a white line," she said. "I felt I was properly prepared. It cost me $130 to sit and I'll have to save for a resit."

Hall, 17, from Westmere, wanted a licence to find work in the building trade. He was failed for an incomplete stop. "There were too many tricky roundabouts and confusing lanes," he said.

- Herald on Sunday

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