Northland pass rates better, but basics overlooked


The NZ Transport Agency says the average pass rate in Northland for people sitting the new on-road restricted driving licence test has increased steadily, but too many drivers are still tripping up on the basics.

Pass rates for the more challenging practical test have risen to 47% from around 20% in the first month after the new test was introduced at the end of February 2012, and the pass rate for the region is on par with the overall national pass rate of 48%.

Before the test to obtain a restricted licence was made more challenging in February 2012, the national pass rate averaged around 80%.

While Northland’s pass rate has increased steadily, Rick Barber, Regional Manager for the Transport Agency’s’ Access and Use group – which oversees licence testing – says a closer look at Northland’s results shows the importance of preparation and practice before sitting the test.

“Many people are tripping up and failing because they haven’t mastered the basics. Feedback from Whangarei shows the two most common faults that lead to a failed test in the city are failing to stop and failing to signal, especially when leaving a roundabout,” Mr Barber says.

“There’s no substitute for supervised practice and preparation before taking the test - the Transport Agency encourages learner drivers to clock up around 100 hours of supervised practice and preparation before sitting the test.  Learner drivers have to demonstrate a higher stand of driving to pass“.

The more challenging on-road test for learner drivers is part of the Government’s Safer Journeys road safety strategy.  Road crashes are the single biggest killer of teenagers in New Zealand and the test is directed at improving the standards and skills of young drivers.

The average pass rate for 16-19 year olds in Northland since February 2012 is 47%.  It is 45% for people aged between 20 and 24, and 47% for those aged 25-19.

There are three test centres in Northland.  Kaitaia (which began testing in May 2012) has tested 411 people and its overall pass rate is 52%; Kerikeri has tested 733 people and as an overall pass rate of 52%; Whangarei has tested 2011 people and the overall pass rate is 44%.

Mr Barber encourages young people to practise with experienced drivers in all possible conditions, including wet weather and at night.

“Driving down to the shops and back simply isn’t enough. 100 hours is a small sacrifice to make for increasing the chances of passing a test, and reducing the chances of a crash.”

Mr Barber says free driver licence resources are available from a Transport Agency/ACC online practice programme,, and from the Transport Agency’s own website, link), which provides detailed information on what is tested in the restricted licence.