New licence laws welcomed in Oamaru

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Changes to New Zealand’s driving laws, which come into effect next week, will help make the country’s roads safer, AA North Otago district manager Wayne Kinzett says.

The changes to the Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Rule mean that drivers or riders who obtain or renew their learner or restricted licence after December 1, 2014, and who haven’t moved on to the next licence stage within the following five years will need to pass another theory test to renew their licence after it expires.

Mr Kinzett said the changes will “absolutely” help make New Zealand’s roads safer because if people progress through the system faster they learn more and gain more experience, including the opportunity to undertake a defensive driving course.

“I think it’s a good thing.

“They up-skill all the way through.”

The changes will be pretty straight forward and it’s not set up to make it hard or rush people, he said.

“People can go a long time on their restricted or even on their learners.

“I think five years is enough.

“It’s about getting people to progress.”

NZ Transport Agency Road Safety director Ernst Zollner said the purpose of the Graduated Driver Licensing System is for novice drivers and riders to progress from a learner to a full licence by gradually gaining the skills and experience needed to drive safely – and to demonstrate that they have gained those skills by passing a practical driving test on the way to gaining a full licence.

“Drivers who stay at one licence stage indefinitely aren’t demonstrating that they’ve gained the skills and competence to drive safely.”

Mr Zollner said the changes are part of the Government’s broader Safer Journeys strategy which aims to significantly reduce deaths and injuries on New Zealand’s roads.

The new time limits will work together with other recent measures introduced under Safer Journeys to improve the safety of young drivers, including raising the minimum licensing age from 15 to 16, the introduction of a zero alcohol limit for teen drivers and the roll out of more challenging practical driver tests to gain restricted and full licences.

Another change coming into force on December 1 with the amended Driver Licensing Rule is the strengthening of the ‘evidence of identity’ requirements for licence applications, in order to reduce the risk of driver licences being obtained fraudulently.

By RUBY HARFIELD