In September 2021, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency consulted on the Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Amendment Rule (No 2) 2021, which proposed the following changes:
Consultation on the proposed changes was carried out to make getting a licence more accessible and remove cost and stress for drivers by allowing them to stay at their licence stage if they choose to or gain the skills and confidence to progress to the next licence stage at their own pace.
The changes will also alleviate pressure on the driver licensing system that has a substantial backlog due to COVID lockdowns and is expecting approximately 3,000-5,000 learner and restricted licence holders a month will apply to have their learner or restricted licence renewed between now and late 2023.
Waka Kotahi received a total of 554 submissions on the proposed changes and after considering all the feedback on the questions posed during consultation prepared final draft amendment Rule for the Minister of Transport's approval.
Summary of submission report which includes responses to the points raised [PDF, 492 KB]
Note that this amendment Rule comes into force on 1 December 2021.
As novice drivers and motorcyclists gain skills and experience, they were expected to move from a learner licence to a restricted licence, then to a full licence, within a reasonable timeframe. The five-year limit was intended to provide a balance between providing sufficient incentive for individuals capable of progressing to do so but avoiding forcing those who do not feel skilled enough to progress.Close
The costs of tests (theory and practical) and renewing a licence prevent some people progressing to a full licence and penalises those that choose to remain on a learner or restricted licence for good reason, like only using a moped or to transport children, or as a form of identification.
There is no safety concern that led to this approach and no clear evidence or data to show that drivers on time-limited licences have a higher risk of crashes.Close
Making passing a theory test a requirement for renewal was intended to provide assurance that the licence holder’s driving knowledge is still current, and to incentivise them to move to the next licence stage.
As there is no clear evidence that drivers remaining on learner and restricted licences have any higher risk of crashes, there is little risk in removing this requirement.Close
By removing the time limit on learners and restricted licences we take away the cost barrier, time pressure and stress of sitting and passing a theory test - you will be able to remain on a learner or restricted licence for as long as you like (and renew it every 10 years) or to progress to a restricted or full licence more easily.
This also has a social and economic benefit because a young person is more likely to get employment if they have a restricted or full driver licence.Close
There are a range of reasons licence holders don’t progress to a full licence, such as:
The licence holder is ineligible to drive and will need to renew their licence for a fee, pass a theory test and be issued with another five-year time-limited licence.Close
Between now and late 2023, approximately 3,000-5,000 licence holders a month will have their time-limited licence expire. These licence holders will then be ineligible to drive and will need to renew their licence for a fee, pass a theory test and be issued with another five-year time-limited licence.
Despite increasing testing officer numbers, the practical driver testing system does not have the testing capacity and driver licensing agents would struggle to process the renewals before they expire, and licence holders may have a long wait for a driving test to progress onto the next stage. COVID-19 lockdowns have compounded this and will continue to affect most regions for some time, especially Auckland.
The proposed Rule change will help alleviate the incoming bottleneck and manage the flow of applications, allowing people to remain on their licence for the purpose they need it for, without pressure to progress.Close