Audit watchdog wants lengthy line for driving tests cut short

The Transport Department should take measures to shorten the waiting time for road tests for non-commercial vehicles, the city’s audit watchdog has suggested after a review examining the licensing services for drivers provided by the department.

The latest report released by the Audit Commission on Wednesday noted that the waiting time for new candidates applying for road tests for non-commercial vehicles at driving test centers had significantly increased between 2015 and 2021.

Of which, the waiting time for the practical road test of motorcycles in government test centers in the Hong Kong Region had increased by 284 percent from 67 days to 257 days during the period.

The watchdog’s review found that seven among the 13 driving test centers providing road tests for non-commercial vehicles failed to achieve a utilization rate of more than 80 percent.

In view of the findings, the commission called on the department to streamline duty reporting arrangements for driving examiners and to increase road test output by leveraging new technology - replacing paper test forms with electronic test forms using tablet computers.

Meanwhile, the watchdog also urged the department to regularly update question banks for driving written tests after finding the latest update was made in September 2020, following its previous update in August 2000.

“As a result, no questions on the changes in traffic regulations and legislations related to road safety, such as the prohibition of the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving, had been asked in the written test for many years before September 2020,” the commission wrote in the report.

Separately, the watchdog noted that the department needs to enhance its inspection to address the high percentages of inactive private driving instructors.

The Commissioner for Transport agreed with the audit recommendations.