Scathing report emerges on Israel's drivers' licensing system

Ministry of Transport's lax regulations on drivers' licensing costing Israelis thousands; 80% fail test the first time.

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Tova Dvorin,

Driving lessons (illustrative)
Driving lessons (illustrative)
Flash90

The average Israeli driving student pays at least 1,000 shekels ($260) more than necessary to obtain a license, the State Comptroller's Committee found Monday - and the cost will only rise if the Transportation Ministry privatizes driving tests. 

Driving instructors and examiners have made more than 130 million ($33.7 million) shekels more per year than their average salaries on the backs of student drivers, the Committee found. 

One possible cause: 80% of student drivers fail their first driving exam due to insufficient supervision or regulation over driving courses and the level of learning - causing student drivers to pay out of pocket to retake lessons and the exam itself. 

Regionally, student drivers in Tel Aviv are most likely to pass, Maariv found, with 28.4% passing on their first try vs. just 13.9% in Haifa. The national average stands at just 20%. 

Driving test failures are so high that the Licensing Bureau carries out some 400,000 driving tests each year, with the greater majority of that number including second, third, and even fourth tries at obtaining a license. 

The data raises concerns about the future of Israel's drivers amid population growth, with 120,000 new drivers having been certified each year since 2005. By the end of 2015, that number is expected to rise to a steady 130,000 per year. 

The Ministry of Transport recently began supervising the maximum amount driving instructors may charge for using test vehicles, dropping the average price from 400-500 shekels ($103-129) to 265 ($68.76). Most teachers have raised the cost of lessons in response, however, to some 110 shekels ($28.53) per lesson; 28 are required for first-time drivers. 

In addition, students must pay 141 shekels ($36.50) for every driving exam, on average - plus the cost of 4-8 extra lessons between failed exams.