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Simon Bridges

10 January, 2013

Safety of young drivers on-going strong focus for Govt

The introduction of time limits for learner and restricted licences is part of this Government’s continuing focus on the safety of young and novice drivers, Associate Minister of Transport Simon Bridges announced today.

“The Government intends to limit learner and restricted licence periods to five years to encourage drivers to move through the Graduated Driver Licensing System (GDLS),” said Mr Bridges.

Currently 70 per cent of learner licence holders (205,810) have held their licence for more than two years and 37 per cent have held them for more than six years; 56 per cent of restricted licence holders (173,129) have held their licences for more than three years and 32 per cent have held them for more than six years. When people spend two or more years on a learner licence and three or more years on a restricted licence, licence pooling is said to occur.

“The GDLS never intended drivers to stay on a learner or restricted licence indefinitely. What these drivers need to do is demonstrate their skills and competence and graduate to a full licence in a reasonable time.”

Pooling licence holders are also incurring high numbers of infringements for licence condition breaches. In 2011, 71 per cent of learner licence breaches were incurred by pooled licence holders while 36 per cent of restricted licence breaches were incurred by pooled restricted licence holders.

“This level of offending indicates a lack of respect for the conditions of learner and restricted licences. It is important that these conditions are not seen as optional and we need to reinforce the message that compliance with licence conditions reduces risk.

“Limiting the time that learner and restricted licences can be held is going to encourage these licence holders to progress through the GDLS in a timely way and become skilled and safe drivers.”

These changes are part of the Government’s on-going focus on the safety of young and novice drivers through the Safer Journeys strategy which has already seen the driving age increased to 16, licence tests tightened and a zero blood alcohol limit for drivers under 20 introduced.

The time limits on learner and restricted licences changes will be enacted through a transport rule change, which will include public consultation by the NZ Transport Agency. The new rule will come into force within two years.

Questions and answers:

1. What are the mandatory minimum time periods for the learner and restricted licences?

The minimum time period for a learner licence is six months and for a restricted licence is 12 or 18 months.

To apply for a restricted licence you must have held your learner licence for at least six months. To apply for a full licence you must have held your restricted licence for at least 18 months or at least 12 months if you have completed an approved advanced driving skill course.

2. What are the mandatory maximum time periods and how does this work?

Currently all licences have to be renewed every 10 years, irrespective of what licence is held (learners, restricted, full). When a leaner or restricted licence reaches the 10 year expiry limit, the licence holder must pay a fee to have the licence renewed. There is no requirement to demonstrate maintenance of skills or competence.

The time limit will be shortened to five years for learner and restricted licences. The payment of a fee will likely be combined with a relevant theory test, which will provide incentive for progress as well as ensuring these licence holders remain knowledgeable of the road rules.

For more information please visit: http://www.transport.govt.nz/ourwork/land/timelicences

  • Simon Bridges
  • Transport