There are 130,000 learner drivers in WA and more than half will fail their first driving test.
Figures from the Department of Transport (DoT) show first- time pass rates at nine metropolitan driver vehicle centres for the 2019 financial year range from 19 per cent to 41 per cent, with Mirrabooka lowest at 19 per cent and Rockingham highest at 41 per cent despite guidelines and assessment criteria being the same.
Cannington has a 37 per cent first-time pass rate so far, followed by Kelmscott (36 per cent), Mandurah and Willagee/Success (both 35 per cent), Joondalup and Midland (both 31 per cent) and City West (28 per cent). Willagee has since closed.
Figures for 2018 were similar, with the first-time pass rate at Mirrabooka still the lowest at 19 per cent. Rockingham was 40 per cent and Kelmscott the highest at 41 per cent.
“The same practical driving assessment (PDA) format and criteria is used in all metropolitan and regional DVS centres, requiring the same competency standards to be demonstrated,” the department’s acting general manager of driver and vehicle services, Steve Mitchinson, said.
“The most common reason people fail their PDA is a lack of preparation and lack of knowledge about road rules. Many candidates lose confidence and focus after making a small error which can lead to more serious errors.
“Mistakes happen. If you do something wrong, take a deep breath and start the manoeuvre again. Contrary to popular belief, unless you make a ‘critical error’ you won’t necessarily fail the test.”
Mr Mitchinson said assessors were committed to ensuring candidates were ready to drive on WA roads and did not set out to fail anyone. “They do not trick or try to set up candidates to fail — and they do not have a fail quota,” he said. “The fees for PDAs do not recover the cost of providing that service, therefore the perception that DoT fails students to make money is not true.”
Mr Mitchinson said if people were better prepared, the pass rate would improve, clearing long wait times at some centres.
No-shows and people arriving in unsafe or unregistered vehicles accounted for 8900 — 11 per cent — of cancelled tests.
To help with wait times, the department had recruited six extra assessors this year and was trialling various other measures to clear backlogs, including SMS reminders to combat no-shows and extended hours in Kelmscott during the week and on Saturday mornings.
“Cancellations or changes made by candidates to their PDA bookings release bookings back into the system, providing availability, often at short notice,” he said. “Therefore, candidates are encouraged to check the online PDA booking system daily for changes.”
FIRST TIME PASSES
Financial Year 2019
Cannington: 37 per cent
City West: 28 per cent
Joondalup: 31 per cent
Kelmscott: 36 per cent
Mandurah: 35 per cent
Midland: 31 per cent
Mirrabooka: 19 per cent
Rockingham: 41 per cent
Willagee/Success: 35 per cent
Top reasons for failing a PDA include:
1. Failing to stop at stop signs and cross walks (this includes not fully stopping/ rolling through the stop line).
3. Failing to give way to other cars.
4. Failing to undertake physical head checks of vehicle blind spots.
5. Candidates preparing to “pass the test” on one route or location which does not prepare them for a variety of locations.
LEARNING TO DRIVE
Supervised driving hours increased from 25 to 50 hours in 2012. In 2017, changes were made to the PDA and the Hazard Perception Test (HPT). Learners now complete the HPT and their full 50 hours of supervised driving before attempting the PDA.
WA fatal crash and serious injury statistics show the road toll for learner and probationary drivers has fallen over this time. The statistics include motorcycles.
From 2008-2012, 31 learner and 77 probationary drivers died. Two learner and 10 probationary drivers died from 2013-2016.
From 2008-2012, there were 313 learner and 1302 probationary drivers involved in serious injury crashes, dropping to 130 learners and 296 probationary drivers from 2013-2016.