Driver's license test delays frustrating motorists

Driver's license test delays are frustrating motorists, with some having to wait months for their test.

Auckland student Emma Keats has been preparing to get her restricted license, but she's having to go an hour and a half out of town to sit the test.

"I'm sitting my restricted in Thames in May," she told Newshub. "I'm missing a full day of school for it too."

NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi scrapped the fee for resitting driver's licence examinations last October, meaning would-be licence-holders only have to pay an application fee.

It's led to a massive surge in bookings for the tests. 

Keats said none of her friends have been able to sit their restricted driver test in central Auckland.

"They've had to go way out of Auckland and have had the exact same issues as me."

NZTA Waka Kotahi's website warns that wait times have increased since the fees changed.

In 2020, the national average wait time was 16 days for restricted driving tests and 13 days for full driving tests.

But this year, the wait for a restricted test in central and south Auckland is 45 days, in the Bay of Plenty it's 51, while learner drivers will be waiting for 60 days in Wellington and 55 days in Canterbury.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown thinks this isn't good enough and is looking to reinstate the re-sit fee.

"It requires regulatory changes which does take time, so we're getting that advice at the moment," he said.

"But ultimately my message to NZTA is we need to do everything we can from a practical perspective and an operational perspective in the meantime, to get those wait times down."

It currently costs $167 to get a restricted license, that comes with a free re-test if you fail. But if the Government was to reintroduce those fees it would cost $221 for the test and the subsequent re-sit.

Alistair McGregor has run the Counties Driving School for 20 years, and he's urging learner drivers to prepare well before they sit their test.

"If they've been driving with their parents for some months, very often they have little knowledge of what the requirements are for the test," he said.

"It's a bit of a knowledge gap. Once they are aware of that, they can step up their performance to get a pass."

So practise really does make perfect if you're hoping to pass your driving test any time soon.