The many benefits of a driving licence

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What’s a licence worth?

Having a driving licence does not mean you can drive a vehicle well. It also doesn’t ring true that not having a licence means you can’t drive well.

Driving is like life and is very much around making good choices. But as in life, we all make some poor decisions as we go about our daily routine.

Some people choose not to get a licence and see it as an unnecessary thing to have, while others (like me) look on a driving licence as probably the most important official document you can have.

Not only does it legally allow me to drive a vehicle, it is also an official identification document. Want a home loan or passport? Prove your identity with a driving licence. Need to enter a pub or club? Prove your age with a driving licence.

Applying for a job? Does it say, you need a valid New Zealand driving licence? If not, how are you going to get to and from work? Even during the restricted phase, in most cases you will be able to commute to and from work.

I also see having a driving licence as having a form of insurance against driving offences.

No, I’m not advocating we break the law. What I am saying is, we all make mistakes. If we drive too fast, we get a fine and some demerit points. If I drive too fast without a licence, no points, but I’m likely to get a much bigger fine.

So, a scenario for an unlicenced driver. You get up in the morning, get in the car and start to drive (easy and straightforward so far). Unfortunately, today you have a crash, you have no insurance to replace your car, but what about the person you have hit? How are you going to replace their car?

If you have a licence, you can insure yourself and that will cover any costs for any damages you may cause. As you don’t have insurance, you now face having to pay those costs and for any other damage. Just a normal new car costs between $20,000 and $30,000 — can you afford that? What if two or three other cars are involved?

Many people don’t progress past a restricted licence. Again, not saying you can’t drive, but you have restrictions. Crash when breaking those restrictions and your insurance company won’t cover the cost.

I know its not always that simple. I’m aware, for example, that to change a foreign driving licence to a Kiwi licence, unless you are from certain countries, you must go to Dunedin to do this.

I also know it isn’t cheap and for some it seems such a long period of time to eventually get your full licence. But if I was a young person, I would certainly be prioritising getting a licence sooner rather than later.

A couple of other good decisions could be:
– New young drivers have a zero-alcohol limit. Make a good decision: don’t drink and drive.
– Make a good decision and get professional training and complete a defensive driving course. If you do, you reduce the period of time before you can apply for a full licence.

Take care of that licence.

Drive safer, Waitaki.

Jason Evered is the Waitaki District Council road safety coordinator