Tougher tests will increase illegal driving

Many poor people who struggle to pass the tougher licence test will end up driving illegally, says the car review website

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson says:

“Passing a driving test is now a huge challenge, even for well educated, middle-class teenagers who’ve had many hours of paid instruction. What chance do poor people have?”

“The government recommends 120 hours of supervised driving instruction per child. How on earth is a poor family going to find the time and money to provide this? Driving instructors typically charge around $50 or $60 an hour. Many poor families have both parents working simply in order to survive. How can two working parents find the money to pay an instructor or spend 120 hours in a vehicle supervising each child before a driving test?”

“The government’s policies are aimed squarely at small, middle-class families who are well organised and comfortably well-off. These same policies simply ignore the vast numbers of New Zealanders who struggle daily with paying the rent and keeping food in the cupboard.”

Matthew-Wilson says the tougher licence tests will particularly disadvantage Māori, who often live in small, rural communities that lack either driving schools or public transport.*

“A survey done years ago by the AA Driver Education Foundation, of young people who drove to a Northland training course, showed that 92% had no license. 20% of these young people couldn’t get a licence because they were illiterate.”

“Many young Māori lack access to supervised driver training and a legal car for their practical driving test. Māori organisations are quite capable of teaching their young people to drive. What they lack are the resources to do so. The same applies to poor communities across the nation.”

“If the government is going to make it tougher to get licences, then it must assist those who struggle with the system. A young person with a driver’s license is far less likely to be killed in an accident and is far more likely to be able to get a job. There’s simply no downside to providing practical education for the poorest New Zealanders.”

  • Māori are over twice as likely to die in road accidents than non-Māori. Of the 65 unlicensed drivers involved in fatal crashes between 2005 and 2009, 34 were Māori. 31 of those unlicensed Māori drivers were deemed to have caused the accident.