Driving and driving theory test conditions to change from February

Driving school vehicle.
Driving school vehicle. Source: ERR

February will see the entry into force of changes to practical driving and driving theory tests, with examiners looking for general ability to navigate traffic rather than individual exercises.

The current rules are nearly a decade old, which is why it was necessary to change the structure of the test, Tarmo Vanamõisa, head of the Road Administration's examinations department, told ERR's "Aktuaalne kaamera" news program.

Greater responsibility will now be placed on the future driver in the learning process.

"Both the driving school and later the Road Administration will rather play an ancillary role. The goal of qualifying for the right to drive and being able to successfully navigate traffic is primarily the responsibility of the student. It is up to them how long the process will take and how well they'll manage," Vanamõisa said.

A single exercise will no longer be measured in number of attempts but using a time limit instead. The driver will have to perform three exercises in ten minutes.

The number of people who pass their practical driving test on their first attempt is nothing to write home about. The agency administered a total of 36,207 driving tests in 2019 just 11,600 of which were first attempt passes. Of these, 26,400 were category B driving tests only 6,200 people managed to pass on their first try.

The Road Administration's statistics suggests that three-quarters of first attempters fail the test. And while one might think people do better next time, Vanamõisa said that the number of people who fail the test on their second and third tries is even greater.

The new rules obligate students to return to the driving school for at least two hours of additional lessons after they fail the test for the third consecutive time.

"However, it's not just more driving. It needs to have a goal, which is actually very simple. You pull your driving test reports from the Road Administration's e-service portal, take them to your teacher and work out a program for practicing those driving skills that need more polish. Next, you come in for your fourth test and pass," Vanamõisa explained.

Driving schools will be given more say in how and what to teach and allowed to put together individual study plans for students.

Head of the Altera driving school Andrei Sorokin said that the new rules will make driver training more effective.

"The school will get to decide which theory topics or practical aspects to train. If the driver has not obtained a particular skill, the school can pay more attention to that area," Sorokin said.

Tarmo Vanamõisa said that people who fail their driving test ten times and more do not number as few as one might imagine. Last year, a prospective driver managed to take the test 21 times.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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