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Changes to the motorcycle licence system

Updated: 16 December 2013

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 learner or novice motorcycle riders.

The changes are being rolled out in a number of phases. These are outlined below.

Changes coming in 2014

Competency-based training and assessment

From 1 March 2014, motorcyclists will have another option when choosing how to get their motorcycle licence instead of taking a practical test at each stage of the licensing system, motorcyclists can choose to have their riding skills assessed by an approved CBTA assessor.

Find out more about Competency-based training and assessment.

Changes already implemented

Changes to minimum licence time requirements

Approved advanced driving courses

From 1 October 2012, motorcycle licence applicants are no longer able to present an approved advanced driving course certificate to reduce the minimum time requirement in the restricted licence phase.

Why has this change been 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 NZTA will be developing a motorcycle competency based training and assessment course, which will include motorcycle-specific skills. Once available, this will be the only option to reduce minimum time requirements.

Age based time reduction

From 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 has this change been 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.

What if I get caught out by these changes?

Are you caught out by the changes to the approved course requirements for restricted motorcycle licence holders?

If you completed an approved advanced driving course (Street Talk or Defensive Driving Course) before 1 October 2012, you may be eligible for an exemption to reduce the time you spend in the restricted licence phase to less than 18 months. See the DL4 exemption form for further information.