The RSA 2016 figures showed a notable discrepancy in the amount of people failing their driving tests across different counties.
The Road Safety Authority has revealed its figures for 2016 which shows a notable gap in the percentages of people failing the test between counties.
The figures, obtained from an FOI request from the RSA, revealed that 54% of people failed their test in Dublin, while only 30% of drivers failed their test in Roscommon.
Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare have the highest fail rate, ranging between 51-54%. Dublin, as one would expect, had the highest number of tests conducted in Ireland with 35,219 people taking their test in the city and county. 19,044 drivers failed the test.
Roscommon, Sligo and Clare have the lowest fail rates ranging between 30-34%. 1,019 drivers took their test in Roscommon.
It is important to point out that the number of people taking their test does not affect the percentages, so the 24% difference between Dublin and Roscommon is questionable.
When asked to comment, a spokesperson for the RSA said: “The Road Safety Authority gives a high level of priority to ensuring that there is uniformity of standards at all driving test centres, to ensure that, regardless of variations in location, test routes, or weather conditions, the test experience is similar for each candidate irrespective of where it is conducted or who carries it out.”
Despite this, Dublin city appears to be the most difficult county to pass your driving test in Ireland.
The RSA did not comment on whether the significant difference in the fail rates would be investigated and suggested that the difference could be explained by the driver’s preparation for the test.
“There are many factors that impact on test outcomes and perhaps the greatest of these is the level of preparedness of test candidates, whether tuition has been taken and the quality of such tuition.”
This comment is arguable as, since April 2011, it is mandatory for learner drivers to complete 12 lessons prior to sitting the driving test. Therefore, drivers who come to sit their test nowadays have spent a lot of time and money preparing for the test.
Sally Gorman is a UL student from Westmeath. She has sat her test three times in Westmeath and has failed each time. She explains how much sitting the driving test has set her back.
“I have spent the guts of €1000. Three tests at €85 each, my compulsory lessons cost €300 and I also took three refresher lessons before each test which cost €270.
“I spent €50 to rent the instructor’s car each time to sit the test, so that amounts to €150. My provisional license also expired in the middle of all that and was €35 for a new one.
“All of that money spent doesn't include tax, insurance or petrol. It's crazy!”
Ms Gorman said that although she thinks that the tests are marked fairly, she said that the tester tended to be a little “harsh” and felt that he didn’t explain why she had failed the test.
“I don't like the way you don't receive a marking form like years ago. You no longer receive a sheet with the X's in the box to show where you fell down.
“On all occasions, I received an email with my grading, hours after the test and didn't find this beneficial at all. I wasn't talked through my mistakes very well.”
Gemma Keating is a lab technician who sat her test in Tipperary. She passed her test the first time and feels that, with sufficient practice, everyone can pass the driving test regardless of where you take it.
“Smaller towns will have fewer routes so it would be easier to get to know them. It has become much more regulated now it doesn’t matter where you do it you’re still doing the same tasks.
“I think it depends more on how much practice you put in. I’m proof of that!”
Despite this, Ms Keating agreed that it would be more difficult for someone to pass their driving test in Dublin.
“There are more obstacles, signs and people to watch out for in a city. Observation is huge in the driving test, it would be hard to see what’s going on all around you with multiple lanes.”
Dermot Lennon, an Approved Driving Instructor in Three Rock School of Motoring in South Dublin, has been working in the industry for more than ten years. He offered his opinion on the matter.
"It is unfortunate that the pass rate is so low in Dublin. This can be partly attributed to bad infrastructure in different locations."
Some of the locations Mr Lennon mentioned were Milltown Rd, Rathmines Great & Landscape Rd, Newtown Little in Dublin city.
Dublin City Council said that they did not wish to comment on this remark.
From the part of the RSA, they insisted that there are numerous measures put in place to ensure that all tests are performed at a uniform standard and ensure consistency. These include individual monitoring of test results by the tester; tests accompanied by supervisory driver testers; one on one mentoring; remedial training; periodic refresher training in technical and assessment skills in line with EU Directives for Driver Testers; group training as well as accreditation to HETAC standard for all driver testers.
However, this still does not explain why there is such a gap between the test centres here in Ireland. The spokesperson for the RSA said: “The test outcomes in Ireland compare favourably with driver testing services in other countries, and in terms of the measures in place to ensure uniformity, those the RSA have in place are on a par with the measures taken in other similar EU countries.”
It was claimed that driver testers were working towards a ‘quota’ of driver’s who pass the test. The RSA denied this claim, stating:
“Driver Testers are trained to conduct driving tests to a uniform standard as prescribed in the RSA driving test Standard Procedures and Fault Marking Guidelines. It is against this standard that the performance of Driver Testers is measured and not on a quota of pass or fails.”
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