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Changes to the motorcycle licence system

Updated: 1 December 2014

The government's road safety strategy 'Safer Journeys' identifies motorcycling safety as a priority area for improvement. The strategy action plan, released in 2010, included a range of initiatives and rule changes which aim to improve the safety of motorcyclists.

The majority of the changes are aimed at novice motorcycle riders.

These are outlined below.

What are the changes?

Changes to minimum licence time requirements

Approved advanced driving courses

Since 1 October 2012, motorcycle licence applicants have been unable to present an approved advanced driving course certificate to reduce the minimum time requirement in the restricted licence phase.

Why was this change made?

Advanced driving courses are classroom-based and few motorcycle-specific skills are taught, so there is less relative benefit to motorcycle riders than to car drivers.

The NZ Transport Agency has developed a motorcycle competency based training and assessment course, which includes motorcycle-specific skills. This is now the only option to reduce minimum time requirements.

Age based time reduction

Since 1 October 2012, all motorcycle riders regardless of age have the same minimum time requirement of 18 months in the restricted licence phase.

This gives all riders more time to gain on-road riding experience under restricted licence conditions.

Why was this change made?

The use of motorcycles has changed since the age distinction was introduced. Motorcycles are more likely to be used recreationally by older motorcyclists, rather than as a cheap form of transport for young people. As a result, the age profile of novice motorcyclists has changed, with the average age of a restricted motorcycle applicant now being 32.5 years old. Age-based distinctions in the motorcycle graduated driver licensing regime are no longer appropriate. All motorcyclists have a significantly higher level of risk of death or injury on the road than car drivers of the same age.