New tests more difficult for drivers to navigate

Updated: 2013-01-10 01:10

By XU WEI (China Daily)

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The newly revised driver's license tests have caught many applicants unprepared, and the pass rate reached new lows in a number of cities.

The new tests, which took effect on Jan 1, added a number of new subjects in the written knowledge test and increased difficulty levels in the driving skills test.

As a result, traffic management authorities in a number of cities reported that the pass rate of the new tests has dropped below 50 percent.

In Beijing, the pass rate of the written knowledge test was only 44 percent in the last few days, down from 74 percent in the same period last year, according to a statement issued by the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, only 48 percent of the applicants passed the driving skills test that evaluates their parking and reversing skills, a reduction of 10 percentage points year-on-year.

The situation was much worse in other cities.

In Zhuhai of Guangdong province, only 35 of 502 applicants passed the written knowledge test, Southern Metropolis Daily reported.

In Shenzhen, only four of 106 applicants passed the same test, the newspaper reported.

In Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, only 10 percent of the applicants passed the written knowledge test, local media reported.

Insiders believe so many people failed the written knowledge test because the pool of exam questions has been updated, as 90 percent of the questions are new.

Many failed the driving skills test because of changes. For example, in a part that challenges an applicant's parking skill, rods that used to help the driver park by indicating the car's relative location have been replaced by lines drawn on the ground.

"Some applicants who are not tall enough cannot even see the parking lines, and the tips we concluded from our experiences to teach the applicants have lost their value," said Xin Kezhuang, a driving instructor at Beijing's Xizong Driving School.

In China, most people learn how to drive at driving schools.

Many driving schools and instructors were unprepared for the changes in driving tests, which largely accounted for the reduction in the pass rate.

"We are still looking for the most effective methods to teach the students and we haven't found them so far," Xin said, estimating that only 10 to 20 percent of his students could pass the driving test held on Thursday.

"It is a tougher test for driver license applicants and a tougher test for us as well" he said.

Despite the higher failure rate, some applicants believe the increased effort on test preparation is worthwhile.

"Driving is no small business and the harsh tests will definitely help reduce the risk on the roads," said Ma Liang, a 24-year-old graduate student of Renmin University of China, who recently took lessons at a driving school.

"It might take more effort to pass the tests, but in the long run it will save more effort on the roads," he said.

An Baijie contributed to this story.

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