Change in driver training highlights instruction permit learners

10/2/18, 8:00 AM

The driver training reforms that came into force in July have also had an impact on driving instruction statistics. The changes that focused on the evaluation of comprehensive driving skills and a wide-ranging understanding of traffic situation have made the examinations even more demanding, which can also been seen in the shares of students who passed their first attempt

“The change in legislation made it easier to obtain an instruction permit, and a record number of instruction permits were issued between July and August, over 11,000 in total. An increasing number of students may be thinking of combining driving school lessons with instruction permit teaching,” explains Adviser Marjo Immonen.

One of the goals of the driver training reform was to increase the diversity of the avenues available for obtaining a driving licence. The focus is not on where and how students learn, but on ensuring that new drivers are ready and prepared to drive in real traffic conditions when they obtain their licence.

The reform decreased the number of mandatory lessons in driving schools, but also brought e.g. instruction permit learners under the tutelage of professional teachers even before they attempt to pass their driving exam. Now, all people who want to obtain a driving licence must attend a risk training course in a driving school or under some other traffic safety instructor who has been approved by Trafi.

“Professional teaching provided to instruction permit learners before they participate in the driving examination surely supports the learning process in its own way. However, we don't have any exact information on e.g. the figures for the different learning paths and the instruction that students receive, so we can’t jump to any far-reaching conclusions just yet,” emphasises Immonen.

The share of students who have passed the driving exam for passenger cars on an instruction permit has been growing steadily since the change in legislation in July. In 2017, their share was 20 % of all those who passed the exam, and in 2018 their share was 21 % between January and June, and 23 % between July and August.

Number of students who pass the driving licence exam dropped in July and August

Between July and August, around 7,700 students passed the driving exam for passenger cars and obtained a B-class licence. This figure is lower than the figure for July and August in 2016 and 2017, when the number of students who passed was 10,700 and 11,100. In total, between January and August of this year, only 37,100 B-class driving licences were granted, which represents an 8 % drop when compared to last year, when 40,200 students passed the exam.

“The number of driving licences that were granted between July and August was surely affected by the changes in driving instruction, such as the new and mandatory risk training, which must be completed before a student can participate in the driving exam. In some places, there has been a rush to take the driving exam, which has resulted in long waiting times,” notes Immonen.

Between May and June, the number of students who passed the B-class driving exam before the legislative change was 11,200. In the previous year, this same figure was 10,900

“This means that a few months prior to the change in legislation there was a small increase in the number of exam participants when compared to the year before that, but there was no real rush when it came to the number of students who wanted to pass the exam,” says Special Adviser Ari Väisänen.

Instruction permit learners more likely to pass the driving exam on their first attempt

Between July and August, 64 % of students passed the B-class driving exam on their first attempt. This is two percentage points lower than in January-June 2018.
Between July and August, 70 % of instruction permit learners passed the driving exam on their first attempt, when the same figure for driving school students was only 61 %. In previous years and at the beginning of 2018, instruction permit learners were more likely to fail their driving exam on their first attempt when compared to driving school students.

“After the driver training reform, the evaluation of the driving exam has become increasingly comprehensive in nature, and individual errors play a less significant role in the evaluation process. Now, the focus is on a student’s overall driving skills,” emphasises Immonen.

“This change in emphasis is also likely to present itself when we look at students who have passed their driving exam on their first go, as most instruction permit learners have more driving lessons under their belt when they take the exam when compared to driving school students. In addition, the risk identification training that is provided by professionals is sure to help students identify different traffic situations in a more comprehensive manner and become better drivers,” Immonen continues.

*note: this time axis does not present all classes using the same unit of measurement


Renewed theory test more demanding for both driving school students and instruction permit learners

The renewed theory test places more emphasis on the identification of traffic situations and risks. 76 % of students passed the B-class theory test on their first attempt in July-August, which is 11 percentage points less than at the beginning of 2018.

79 % of instruction permit learners passed the theory test on their first attempt, while 76 % of driving school students passed on their first attempt.

*note: this time axis does not present all classes using the same unit of measurement

“We can’t draw any exact conclusions on the basis of just two months, but based on our experiences so far, it seems that the driver training reform has had the desired effect,” Immonen concludes.

Adviser Marjo Immonen, marjo.immonen (at), tel. +358 29 534 5588, Twitter @ImmonMar
Special Adviser Ari Väisänen, ari.vaisanen (at), tel. +358 29 534 6177 (statistics)