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Almost every other driving test in Estonia ends in failure

Driving test.
Driving test. Source: ERR

Since February 1, driving tests in Estonia no longer count the amount of tries and maneuvers made during the test, instead what is important is that three exercises are completed within ten minutes. Even though the tests should be easier and less stressful, results have not significantly improved.

Daniil, who got his license on his second attempt, told ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Sunday: "It is a great rule, because it takes the stress off. You no longer have to think about how many tries you have left and if you have to hurry. Now you can do everything more or less calmky because you have time."

He failed his first test in June because he was counting on others in traffic. The young man said he had noticed the traffic sign but was not able to read it: "The driver in front accelerated and I thought I had to catch him, I exceeded the speed limit and that was that."

He thought the most critical part of a test is to not get frustrated: "If you get even a little frustrated, make a mistake, then you will start to worry and the mistakes will start to add up."

Tarmo Vanamõisa, head of the examination department of the Road Administration (Maanteeamet), said tests had to be made more modern because the exercises and grading scale had become dated.

Vanamõisa added: "The test did not get any easier, if I do say so myself.

"The fact that we gave people more chances and freedom during the test to adjust or to find a solution is working. But we still see a problem as people are not used to the freedom and still make mistakes."

According to Vanamõisa, driving school teachers who have not adjusted to the new rules play a part in this.

He said: "We see it in parking especially, people still try to reverse in between two cars, which is a dated solution. Any kind of logical thinking is missing from modern driving schooling."

Although the pandemic delayed driving tests, experience shows that ten minutes is enough to finish three exercises. An average of 5-6 minutes is usually taken and only a couple hundred of the 6,000 examinees end up struggling with time.

The top five mistakes made during driving tests has remained the same, with traffic lights continuing to be the main source of concern.

Vanamõisa said: "If we take 6,000 examinees, then about a thousand have ended up failing because they proceed to drive with a red light. Giving way on priority roads also continues to be an issue, meaning that when making a left turn, oncoming traffic is not let through."

Learners under the new system are just now reaching the tests but the initial results do not show any significant improvement.

Vanamõisa added: "First-time examinees still pass on around 46-50 percent cases, but the results of second and third-time passers has improved by 15-20 percent. This shows that re-examinations are taken more seriously."

Ideally, two thirds of first-time exam takers would pass the exam. Vanamõisa believes that the results will improve because learners under the new system are just reaching their exams.

According to Vanamõisa, the higher the success rate, the shorter the queues for tests would be. To shorten queues, the Road Administration applied for a test that is ten minutes shorter than before.

Vanamõisa said: "So the driving part would be 35 minutes and the whole test an hour. We applied for that to last for 180 days. The easiest answer is that we will see how it goes during that time."

The length of exams going forward will be assessed when the high season for tests is over in a few months.

For someone teaching their closed ones how to drive, Vanamõisa first recommends going back to driving school.

He concluded: "Please visit a driving school first, sit in the car for an hour or two, talk to the teacher and figure out what's actually going on in traffic nowadays. Incorrect maneuvers always come out during a test."


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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