‘Seriously wrong’: $98 problem with driving test system

·4-min read

Learning to drive is a nerve-wracking experience, but in Western Australia's South West, a learner driver is more likely to fail a practical driving test than pass.

"Bunbury has the highest failure rate in the state," South West MLC James Hayward told Yahoo News Australia. "In the South West the failure rate [is] sitting at 62 per cent."

To understand why the fail-rate is so high, Mr Hayward has called on the WA State Government to trial cameras in driving assessor cars for tests in the regional city; however, some argue the high failure rate is revenue raising.

Over half of Bunbury's learner drives fail their practical test. Source: carsales.com
Over half of Bunbury's learner drives fail their practical test. Source: carsales.com

The cameras would be beneficial to the learner and assessor

Mr Hayward believes installing a camera to record during driving tests will help uncover why so many L- platers are failing in Bunbury driving tests.

“By recording assessments, it lifts accountability for the assessors and the students and provides clear feedback with no ambiguity,” Mr Hayward explained.

“There is something seriously wrong with a driving test system which is notching up such extraordinary failure rates and has such long wait times."

In WA, it costs $19.90 to sit for the 30-question learner's permit test, plus $24.50 for a hazard perception test and $9.45 for the log book, in which you have to log 50 hours.

For the practical assessment, a one-off $109 new driver licence application fee is required (which includes one practical driving assessment). But if you fail, it costs an additional $98.30 each time to resit the test.

South West MP James Hayward is calling on the WA State Government to introduce a trial of cameras during driving tests. Source: Supplied
South West MP James Hayward is calling on the WA State Government to introduce a trial of cameras during driving tests. Source: Supplied

More assessments than previous years

The Western Australia Department of Transport says 600 more assessments were completed by June in Bunbury compared to the same time last year, with wait times of up to 12 weeks.

Due to a lack of Department of Transport assessors, Mr Hayward is calling on the State Government to urgently address the matter, suggesting it could be due to the lack of time and large workload of driving assessors.

"Anecdotal evidence says that assessors are not taking the time to address feedback with learner drivers after failing a test," a statement from Mr Hayward read.

“A recent public meeting highlighted the angst and distress that it is causing and how soul-destroying it is for young people who are continuously being failed," the statement continued, adding that young learners are "bewildered" by constantly being failed again and again.

“Instead of ignoring concerns, the Member for Bunbury needs to take this situation seriously and ensure the Minister for Transport makes urgent changes."

WA Department of Transport says there's no 'fail quota' for assessments 

The WA Department of Transport says the fees for practical driving assessments only cover the cost of providing that service.

"Therefore the perception that DoT fails students to make money is not true," they said in a statement to Yahoo News Australia, adding a lack of preparation and lack of knowledge about road rules is to blame for high failure rates.

"The top reasons for failing are speeding, failing to stop at a stop sign, driving on the wrong side of the road and needing assessor intervention to prevent a conflict or potential conflict," the statement said.

"Assessors are not looking to fail any candidate – they are passionate about ensuring candidates are safe drivers and their sole purpose is to ensure that the candidate is ready to drive on WA roads," it continued. 

"They do not trick or try to set up candidates to fail and they do not have a fail quota."

The department also says the same test is used statewide, and they recommend candidates take their test in the area where they will do most of their driving, to ensure they are better prepared and have the best chance of demonstrating they are a safe and competent driver.

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