A Letter Regarding Driver Testing

02 June 2014
Dear NSW Roads and Maritime Services,

Well I have been attempting to get my provisional licence as an older driver, and I must say I have found myself rather perplexed by aspects of the testing protocol, and I write in the hope, I suppose, of having these issues clarified (as I doubt they can be resolved).

On Saturday, I failed a driving test at the Newcastle registry; asked to do a 3 point turn in an impossibly narrow street, I mounted the curb. Now, and as I pointed out at the time, no sane driver would attempt to do a 3 point turn in that street. It was explained to me that I might find myself needing to do so in a dead end street. Forgive me if I am wrong, but I thought it was the purpose of the knowledge test to ascertain that every potential driver had the ability to read a "No Through Road" sign? As I possess this ability, I fail to envision a circumstance where I would need to turn in such a street without prior warning to avoid such a situation. In addition, it is stated in RMS literature of the driving test that candidates are not expected to drive as well as an experienced driver. Having said this, it seems rather disingenuous to request candidates perform a manoeuvre many experienced drivers would struggle to perform in order to prepare for an outlandish scenario.

 Nevertheless, I was aware as soon as I mounted the curb that I had failed. So I question why, if candidates commit a fail incident, they are not given the option to terminate the test immediately. It is stressed that the driving test is not a lesson and the tester cannot give feedback; pray tell then why candidates are expected to continue with the pantomime of the test if they have failed? Is it envisioned we had nothing better to do with our time? Perhaps if tests were terminated upon a fail item, there would be time to carry out more tests throughout the course of the day, thereby reducing the current 3-6 week wait for a testing slot in my local area. We know when we have failed, so please stop treating us like idiots.

 If drivers on their Ps are expected to be able to drive as well as experienced drivers, I question the need for P plates at all. I was under the impression that the purpose of driver testing was to ensure that you can safely get from A to B in order to continue learning on your own. Like many people with Aspergers syndrome, I am a didactic learner, and as I can already safely drive from one place to another I am very keen to be able to continue developing at my own pace. Nerves in the test are not necessarily a sign that one is not ready; for me and many others with neurological conditions and anxiety, it can be a symptom of the distress at being evaluated by a stranger in a confined space under extreme pressure.

 And finally, I question why drivers over the age of 25 are required to be on P plates for 3 years. We don't require a log book and are adjudged to be driving more safely, so surely it would make sense to adopt a system like Queensland, where drivers over 25 go onto green P2s for one year only? I don't want to take road trips, go hooning and drive around at night with my friends. I want to be able to pick my kid up from daycare and get the groceries home without having to lumber on and off the bus. This I can already safely do, and it is most frustrating that I have to wait another possible six weeks (and pay for another test) because some idiots out there can't read a No Through Road sign.



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