Response to Article in Sunday Life Newspaper
I refer to the two articles on the driving test which appeared in the 17 July 2005 edition. Both presented a distorted and misleading picture.
The article entitled 'L of a shock for Ulster motorists' said that the pass rate in Northern Ireland was 50% and that this compared with a figure of 85% in some parts of Great Britain. In fact, the average pass rate in NI is currently 48%, 6% above the GB average of 42%. I am sure your readers as would I be interested in knowing which parts of the UK have a pass rate of 85%.
The article also gave an example of a person who had failed her driving test seven times, and pointed out how much this had cost. Whilst I am unable to verify the details of particular cases, it would clearly be possible for someone to fail the test seven times, and it would be appropriate that they should do so if they were unable to achieve the required standard. The alternative would be for driving licences to be awarded for attendance - and that would be worth writing about.
The paper also included a piece entitled 'Ulster's dismal driving record', which said that 'experts' had suggested that the Government was 'profiting from the high failure rate'. I am not sure who these nameless experts are but clearly they are unaware that the Driver & Vehicle Testing Agency, which delivers the driving test in Northern Ireland, is non profit making. The Agency's financial objective is merely to recover its costs from the fees charged to customers, not to make money for the Government or anybody else.
I would like to extend an invitation to the Sunday Life to see at first hand the quality assurance processes that DVTA has in place for the driving test. The NI system is amongst the most stringent in Europe, and is regarded by many as a model of best practice. It is also the only one to have been ISO accredited.
Chief Driving Examiner