Proposed changes for renewing learner and restricted car and motorcycle licences were released for consultation earlier this week.
The proposals, included in the draft Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Amendment Rule 2021, would include removing the five-year time limit for learner and restricted licences, instead making them valid for 10 years (the same as a full licence) when the licence is renewed.
They would also allow licence holders to renew their licence at any time, removing the current restriction which doesn’t allow licences to be renewed sooner than 90 days before they expire, and remove the requirement for drivers or riders to re-sit and pass a theory test to renew their learner or restricted licences.
Waka Kotahi senior manager systems integrity Hayley Evans says the five-year licence validity period has not encouraged drivers to progress to a full licence since it was introduced in December 2014.
“The current requirements are penalising people who are unable to progress,” says Hayley, “especially those who do not have access to driver training or to a roadworthy vehicle to practice driving in.
“Waka Kotahi wants to ensure the driver licensing system is accessible to everyone, and encourages people to retain their licences, given the known economic and social benefits that holding a valid licence can offer.”
Hayley says the changes will remove the unnecessary cost, time pressure and stress of sitting and passing a theory test every five years while learner and restricted riders and drivers develop the necessary skills and confidence to progress through the system.
“The five-year limit and theory test requirement have had no clear impact on road safety since they were introduced in 2014,” she says. “As such we are proposing to remove both conditions and make newly issued learner and restricted licences valid for ten years, the same as a full licence.
“Removing the 90-day renewal window will allow learner or restricted licence holders to renew at their convenience and lessens the pressure on the driver licencing system, which is facing growing demand for theory and practical testing and a backlog of licence renewals created by Covid-19 lockdowns.”
The proposed changes are part of a broader review of the graduated driver licensing system, being led by the Ministry of Transport, which will look to address barriers to progression within the system while maintaining or improving safety outcomes.