The allegation: getting a driver’s license in Poland is overly difficult. WORDs (voivodship driver’s licence examination centres) make money out of candidates who fail. Unfortunately, difficult exams do not increase safety on our roads.The Supreme Chamber of Control’s (NIK) report reveals that some candidates try even more than 50 times. In WORD in Katowice one candidate didn’t pass the theory test 81 times. Another one – in Częstochowa – 82 times. They both have been trying since 2012, at least once a month. They lost a few thousands złoty just on theory exams.
There is a resident of Kielce who is simply unbeatable. He took the practical test 64 times. This exam is more expensive because it costs 140 złoty. We should not forget about the extra 50-60 złoty per driving lesson.
30 hours (of training) is enough for only a few people – says Roman Zdziarski, an instructor with 40 years of experience. – My most persistent student had 300 hours. She passed the exam at the first attempt.
The description of these situations indicates the cause: money. WORDs have monopoly on the drivers’ examinations in Poland. They are their principal source of financing. Exams constitute 88% of income – nearly 60 million złoty. 70% are the payments for retakes. For example, WORD in Opole earned 3 million złoty on these.
In Koszalin, Szczecin, Opole and Gdańsk one out of four trials is successful. In Ostrołęka, Łomża, Suwałki and Rzeszów the pass rate is the highest (almost 50%).
It is not surprising that “examination tourism” is booming in our country – at least every 20th person changes the examination centre. They choose smaller cities, with less traffic and simpler system of roads. The residents of Warsaw tend to choose Łomża and Ostrołęka where the pass rate has been the highest for several years. Smaller cities have seen their chance to develop because of this – they build a lot of new WORDs even in places where there are no conditions for it. This phenomenon results in bad preparation of candidates in smaller cities and bad financial situation of the biggest ones. What do WORDs in big cities do? They raise the bar so high that it is possible only for one out of three candidates to pass the exam.
If the examiner wants to fail the student, they will always find an excuse. Regardless of the level of the candidate, they will examine them so as to be in tune with the statistics – reveals Roman Zdziarski.
Statistics in Poland show that two out of three trials end up in failure. In comparison, in Ireland and Scotland the pass rate is 50%, in Germany – even 70%. It would make sense, if it provided safety. Unfortunately, we have 2-3 times more lethal casualties. It is a Polish phenomenon.
Words are focused on profits, not safety – says Zdziarski, who has been trained in the UK. – I show each candidate how to drive on a motorway but I don’t see many “L” cars* there – the instructors do not want to loose so much petrol.
He thinks that another cause of such fatal safety statistics on Polish roads is instructors and examiners’ low level of knowledge. The NIK report confirms it.
The other side of the coin is the fact that growing number of people drive without a driver’s licence. It turns out that it is very hard to gain a driver’s licence but it is also extremely hard to lose it: the drivers who gather over 24 penalty points are not forced to pass the exam once again. It means that they still drive and might cause danger on our roads. NIK estimates there are at least half a million of them.
*“L” car – a driving training car, L stands for lesson.
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