Changes to New Zealand’s Graduated Driver Licensing System are set to come into force next week, aimed at improving the safety of novice drivers and motorcyclists.
The changes to the Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Rule include the introduction of a five-year time limit on new learner and restricted car and motorcycling licences.
From 1 December 2014, drivers or riders who obtain or renew their learner or restricted licence and who haven’t moved on to the next licence stage within the following five years will need to pass another theory test to renew their licence after it expires.
NZ Transport Agency road safety director Ernst Zöllner says the changes will encourage novice drivers and motorcyclists to progress to a full licence within a reasonable timeframe.
“The purpose of the Graduated Driver Licensing System is for novice drivers and riders to progress from a learner to a full licence by gradually gaining the skills and experience needed to drive safely – and to demonstrate that they have gained those skills by passing a practical driving test on the way to gaining a full licence.
“The restrictions that apply to learner and restricted licences are there to ensure that novice drivers gain experience and skills under low-risk conditions. Drivers who stay at one licence stage indefinitely aren’t demonstrating that they’ve gained the skills and competence to drive safely. Many offences for breaching licence conditions are committed by drivers who have held a learner or restricted licence for an extended time.”
Mr Zöllner said the changes are part of the Government’s broader Safer Journeys strategy which aims to significantly reduce deaths and injuries on New Zealand’s roads. The new time limits will work together with other recent measures introduced under Safer Journeys to improve the safety of young drivers, including raising the minimum licensing age from 15 to 16, the introduction of a zero alcohol limit for teen drivers and the rollout of more challenging practical driver tests to gain restricted and full licences.
Another change coming into force on 1 December with the amended Driver Licensing Rule is the strengthening of the ‘evidence of identity’ requirements for licence applications, in order to reduce the risk of driver licences being obtained fraudulently.