To many people, passing the practical driving test represents a passport to freedom – an important rite of passage if I may. But passing the practical exam is quite a difficult feat to achieve for a lot of drivers especially on their first attempt.
To pass this test, you need to prove to the examiner that you are a competent enough driver to drive on public roads without putting either your life or that of other road users in danger. Although it’s a significant challenge, passing the practical driving licence test is not impossible and can be done in the first attempt.
Here are a few tips to help you ace your New Zealand practical driving test on the first attempt:
- Practice a lot beforehand
The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) recommends that you have at least 120 hours of supervised practise before taking the test. A good way to get the maximum out of these practice time is to combine professional training with private practise.
Ensure you have had at least five professional driving lessons with a trained and accredited instructor from a reputable driving school and between 10 – 20 hours of practise between each. Drive on different types of roads to familiarise yourself with different driving conditions.
- Know the test route
Know the areas surrounding the test centre and the possible routes you could be asked to drive. Drive these routes as many times as you can with your instructor to increase your confidence. You can ask your professional driving instructor to take you through common routes as well as provide tips that you can use.
Practising on the test route also helps you familiarise yourself with the course – a good way to reduce nervousness. Panic is the main reason why even the most skilled learners fail to pass their practical licence test.
- Avoid the common mistakes
Common mistakes made by learner drivers on the practical test include:
• Driving at inappropriate speeds (either too fast or too slow).
• Failing to give way.
• Stopping in dangerous positions such as pedestrian crossings and no-stop zones.
• Not following the instructor’s instructions – if you don’t understand something, ask for clarification.
• Stalling the vehicle.
• Incomplete stops at stop signs.
• Mounting kerbs.
• Not signalling.
• Not using the mirrors.
• Poor positioning at roundabouts and junctions.
Adequate practice will help reduce the chances of making these mistakes but pay attention during the test so as not to miss anything.
- Use a car you are comfortable in for your test.
Familiarity with your car will come in handy during the test. Make sure to take the test in a car that you have driven many times so that you are completely comfortable with its controls. This is especially important for manual vehicles as you need to be familiar with the clutch position at which the car bites so as not to stall.
Ready your vehicle for the test by ensuring it has a current warrant of fitness, a current license label, current road user charges (for diesel vehicles), and approved and properly displayed L plates. Also, ensure your vehicle has adequate fuel to get you to the test location and last for the entire test.
- Have a good night rest before the test
Resting properly on the night of the exam will help you improve your alertness and focus during the test. If you can, schedule your test in the morning while you are still fresh. If you have to take the test during the afternoon, make sure you don’t do any tiring or stressing activities before as this could negatively impact your performance behind the wheel. Take a day off if you have to.
And remember, showing up late for the practical driving test is an automatic fail. So make sure you know how to get to the test location beforehand and start the journey early enough. Good luck!