Upcoming changes to the restricted licence test will lead to better trained and safer young drivers, says the AA.
The restricted licence test will become tougher and longer from February 2012, and the new test routes will involve more challenging environments, requiring learners to prove their skills in heavier traffic and on multi-lane roads. This will mean there will be a reduction in the number of locations providing the restricted test but road safety will benefit by having all drivers assessed against a consistent national standard.
The AA will also partner with the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) to provide a community programme to assist disadvantaged drivers around the country to prepare for the new restricted test.
“These changes are going to require learner drivers and their families to put in more time and effort to achieve a restricted licence but it will help our young drivers gain the skills they need to become safe drivers,” says AA Motoring Affairs Manager Mike Noon.
“We have been doing our young people no favours by letting them start driving on their own after only a small amount of supervised practice.”
The new test has been designed to require 120 hours of supervised practice to pass it, which is the internationally recommended amount of time before learners are allowed to drive solo.
New Zealand learners are currently estimated to do no more than 50 hours of supervised practice before starting to drive solo and research has shown that if drivers clock up the recommended 120 hours before sitting their restricted test their risk of being in a crash is greatly reduced.
“Having better trained, more experienced young drivers will ultimately benefit all of us by improving our road safety and reducing the number of people killed and injured on our roads,” says Mr Noon.
“Road crashes are the single biggest killer of 15-24 year olds in our country and in 2010 there were 113 fatalities and 4334 injuries on our roads in this age group.
“The riskiest time in a driver’s life is when they first start driving solo yet the testing emphasis under the previous system was focussed on a driver gaining their full licence.
“Putting the focus on the restricted test is a much-needed change that the AA strongly supports.
“This would have also been the perfect time to double the minimum learner licence period to a year, as achieving 120 hours of supervised practice in the current six month term is unrealistic.”
At the same time as the restricted test is made more difficult, the test for a full licence will become shorter. The combined cost of the two tests will remain the same.
David McLister, AA General Manager of Driver Licensing, says “the withdrawal of practical testing from some towns will not affect the AA’s Driver Licensing Counter Services in those towns. Practical and full tests can still be booked at these locations.”
For more information contact:
General Manager: Motoring Affairs
New Zealand Automobile Association
T. (04) 931 9984
M. 021 659 704
The New Zealand Automobile Association is an incorporated society with over one million members. It represents the interests of road users who collectively pay over $2 billion in taxes each year through fuels excise, road user charges and GST.