REVEALED: Why less than half of road test takers in Zimbabwe passed driver’s licence exam


LESS than half of the 65 000 people who took road tests between April and June this year failed to pass the examination, which is mandatory for one to acquire a driver’s licence, with the authorities attributing the high failure rate to lack of practice and nervousness among prospective drivers.

A new report by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) shows that only 45,5 percent (about 29 000) of those who took the certificate of competency test passed.

Conversely, about 44 000 out of the 71 981 prospective drivers who sat the provisional driver’s licence test passed, representing a 62,7 percent pass rate.

“At national level, 65 453 candidates undertook the certificate of competency test during the second quarter of 2023, of which less than half (45,5 percent) succeeded,” reads the report.

“In all provinces, except Harare and Mashonaland East, proportions of candidates who passed certificate of competency tests during the second quarter 2023 were less than 50 percent, ranging from 29,1 percent in Midlands to 41,3 percent in Manicaland. About 84 percent of the individuals who went for retests succeeded.”

In Bulawayo, only 38,8 percent of the 4 113 people who took road tests passed; while in Matabeleland North, 74,3 percent of the 1 256 prospective drivers passed.

The pass rate in Matabeleland South stood at 65,7 percent out of the 3 702 who took the road test.

Harare had the highest number of prospective drivers at 28 530, with about 53,7 percent passing the certificate of competency test.

In Mashonaland Central, 2 291 took the test and only 36 percent passed.

The pass rate in Mashonaland East stood at 51,8 percent from the 5 092 who took the test, while in Mashonaland West, 4 803 prospective drivers took the test and the pass rate was 62,8 percent.

In Masvingo, 3 315 underwent road tests and the pass rate was 59,6 percent.

However, in an interview with The Sunday Mail, Transport and Infrastructural Development Permanent Secretary Engineer Joy Makumbe said driving test pass rates were actually improving.

“The ministry considers this as an improvement from the last decade, where the pass rate was hovering between 22 and 30 percent,” she said.

“This improvement is attributed to the acquisition of better equipment by driving schools.

“This pass rate is statistically comparable to other advanced countries.”

She said there was a general improvement in local driving training and testing standards through enhanced collaboration between the Vehicle Inspectorate Department and driving schools.

Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe media and corporate communications officer Mrs Lucy Kuwandira-Mapfumo said: “We continue to urge those going to these driving schools for training to ensure that it must not be a box-ticking exercise but a platform where they commit themselves to the process of diligently acquiring knowledge of safe driving so that we minimise road crashes in our country.”

Harare Driving School Association president Mr Macnally Mbedzi said poor road infrastructure in the city was contributing to the poor pass rates.

“We believe the poor pass rates could be a result of things such as lack of road signs and road markings, among other things,” he said.

“There is also the problem of not having a proper training ground that has proper facilities, for example, a facility for hill-start training, three-point turn markings and parallel parking spaces.

“If we can have a proper training ground and proper infrastructure, higher pass rates can be obtained.”

Meanwhile, the ZimStat report also shows that a total of 12 981 road traffic accidents were recorded over the April-June period, reflecting a 3,4 percentage increase from those recorded in the previous quarter (12 558).

Four hundred of the accidents resulted in deaths, with May accounting for the highest number of fatal accidents (144).

“In the first quarter, there were 12 558 accidents, 2 386 injuries and 474 deaths; in the second quarter, there were 12 981 accidents, 514 deaths and 2 567 injuries.”

The report was compiled using data obtained from the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, the Central Vehicle Registry and the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

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