Driver training organisations failing multiple audits

On Sunday Newshub revealed how several NZTA-approved driver training companies have been delivering substandard assessments and even helping trainees cheat on their tests. 

Now it can be reported that one NZTA approved training company failed four audits in a row. Breaches involving cheating and shoddy training were identified, yet the operator wasn't shut down. 

NZTA is refusing to identify the operator, but Newshub understands they had approval to train and test bus, taxi, truck, forklift and digger drivers among others. 

The organisation failed audits in 2005, 2006, 2010 and then again in 2016, but just got warnings every time. 

The Automobile Association (AA) says it's time the industry was changed because there are conflicts of interest, as course providers often test drivers on the "training" they've just given them.

Roger Venn, general manager of the AA Driving School says that road users and pedestrians "deserve to know that the training and testing is beyond reproach".

The problems found in the 2016 audit included:

  • The operator sending out Trainee Activity Booklets for the trainee to complete at home
  • People completing a new class of licence and an endorsement in the same day, which if done properly, should involve at least 12 hours of class time 
  • Trainees with identical answers, often in the same order
  • A number of questions marked correct when they weren't.

Despite such serious breaches, the operator, who was described as being "out of touch" with the rules, only got a warning letter. 

Those in the heavy vehicle training industry are allowed to do both training and testing of students, but the AA says you should only be allowed to do one or the other.

"If your business model is training and testing, if you want to be seen as successful, then obviously you want all your students to pass" said Mr Venn. 

"If you have a leg in both camps, there's an obvious conflict for me." 

Since Newshub exposed the issue, a forklift driver contacted us to express his dismay at how he was trained.

"We got the test sheet and an answers book, and then the assessor said something to the effect of 'Put it in your own words so it doesn't look copied'. I was shocked!" he said. 

"I'm going to be allowed to drive the forklift on the road and I don't actually know anything."

Associate Transport Minister David Bennett said in a statement the current auditing system is "appropriate", but he plans to ask his officials to look into allegations of ongoing poor performance.