Has the Essential Driver Training Programme led to higher driving test pass rates?

By Liam McInerney and Alastair Magee

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) implemented the Essential Driver Training (EDT) programme in April of 2015.

It meant that those learning to drive were required to do a minimum of twelve structured one hour lessons with different skills being taught in each one.

Previously learner drivers didn’t actually need a minimum number of lessons, or any lessons at all, with the option of just booking the first test available to them.

(Source: Alastair Magee & Liam McInerney)

And so the RSA introduced the EDT lessons to “improve road safety,” and to enhance “critical driving knowledge, skills and behaviours of new drivers”.

They also said that it could increase people’s chances of passing their driving test.

So what happened when we looked at the yearly statistics on pass rates over the past eight years?

Evidently the pass percentages haven’t fluctuated dramatically.

In 2008 the average pass rate in Ireland was 57.20% compared to 53.95% in 2015, a difference of just 3.25 per centage points. It is safe to say then that the EDT programme, introduced in 2011, hasn’t significantly increased or decreased pass rates as a whole.

But in individual counties we can see more of a difference.

Cavan’s average pass rates in 2009 and 2011 were 46.9% and 47.9% respectively compared to a rise to 55.10% in 2014 and 56.15% in 2015.

Last year the area with the highest success rates was Sligo with 72.33% passing their test whereas the lowest was Rathgar with 42.89%.

Dublin driving instructor, Joe Coleman, spoke to thecity.ie about EDT.

“It took time to get comfortable with it obviously because we weren’t used to it,” Joe began. “But it’s working good now that we are used to it, we’re five years into it and it’s going OK at the moment.”

Did he prefer the old method of not having a specific structure to lessons or has he found the EDT programme to be beneficial?

“I think it has led to progress. The fact you have to do twelve lessons now is a good thing. The lessons are organised but you can’t always exactly go with the programme; you have to tweak it a little bit but it is positive and hopefully there are more improvements made. I wouldn’t go back to the old way.”

Joe discussed how learner drivers have responded to having to a mandatory number of lessons before being able to apply for their driving test?

“You get mixed reactions. Some people think they don’t need twelve lessons, which is a bit crazy. Some are very much for it whereas others don’t want to do it, they are usually the ones who need them more than anyone,” laughed Joe. “That’s a pretty true statement I can tell you.”

The driving instructor also believes the EDT programme gives learners a better opportunity to pass their driving test first time around.

He said: “Of course it does, because it’s a minimum standard that you have to do, therefore by doing twelve you definitely have a better chance of passing whereas before you didn’t have to do any lessons at all. It’s definitely a better education whether you like it or not. It’s definitely a plus.”

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