Driving License Changes

April 16th, 2010 at 5:30 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The minimum legal could yet rise to 17, after the Government moved yesterday to have it raised from from 15 to 16 by the middle of next year.

The Cabinet yesterday approved the rise to 16, which is part of the Government’s 2010-20 Safer Journeys project.

The project also includes encouraging 120 hours of supervised driving for a restricted licence; learner drivers now do about 50 hours.

Young drivers could also face restrictions on how powerful their cars can be, and tougher penalties for breaching restricted licence conditions.

I think the move to 16 is sound, especially as the school leaving age is no longer 15. It also is more consistent with the general regime we have that young NZers get a partial set of rights at 16 (sex, driving, marriage with parental consent etc) and get most of their full rights at 18 (voting, drinking etc).

The 120 hours of supervised driving to get a restricted is sensible also.

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27 Responses to “Driving License Changes”

  1. boredboy (250 comments) says:

    This is good. Especially the 120 hours. When I sat my licence, it was a case of simply waiting 6 or so months.

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  2. BlairM (2,341 comments) says:

    More madness from Nanny Joyce, Helen Clark’s manchurian MP. And gee, he’s so disappointed he couldn’t just move it to 17 already! Vile.

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  3. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    I think the move to 16 is sound, especially as the school leaving age is no longer 15.

    The school leaving age is 16, so people should be able to drive on their own at 16, and not have to rely on a parent to sit in the passenger’s seat. Thus they need to be able to get a restricted license at 16, not a learner’s permit.
    I also think that an enforced 120 hours won’t work – people will just bullshit their log books. It won’t stop the boy racer problem (the Gold Coast has a far worse racer problem than anywhere in NZ and QLD has 120 hours enforced training).

    Can someone please tell me how stopping 15 year olds from driving will stop 17 to 20 year olds from driving like idiots, or even if there is a reason other than that the government wants to be seen to be doing something?

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  4. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    I’ve yet to see any figures showing 15 yo kids are over-represented in the road accident stats. It appears that’s because this move is purely to pander to prejudice against the young.

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  5. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    I’ve yet to see any figures showing 15 yo kids are over-represented in the road accident stats.

    I would imagine they’re under-represented.

    1. Even though you can get a learners at 15, a lot of people don’t (or at least don’t straight away).
    2. Learner drivers are something like 8 times safer behind the wheel than those with their full licences (I forget what the stat actually says: crashes? fatal crashes?). It’s restricted drivers who are the danger.

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  6. peterwn (3,274 comments) says:

    Despite rural 15 year olds allegedly being just as bad drivers as their urban counterparts, since they do not have access to public transport options, it would IMO be reasonable to continue to allow them to have a driving licence. The age rise would still have 80% or so impact – this would be a reasonable compromise between road safety and not placing too much burden on rural families. It would also help reduce rural voter backlash against National.

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  7. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    The 120 hours of supervised driving to get a restricted is sensible also.

    Yes, and how does Supernanny Joyce propose that people actually do 120 hours of supervised driving? That is between 6000 and 12000km a year at 50/100kph. That is five days of solid driving. Until I recently moved I only did 12,000km a year tops. That is an emormous amount of fuel and wear and tear on a car we can hardly afford to run now. How many people will be able to afford to double their fuel bill to supervise driving for 120 hours? I suggest that most people will just fluff the log book or however that time is supposed to be recorded.

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  8. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    It would be interesting to know how young rural drivers are represented in the crash stats. They tend to travel greater distances, far more at 100 kph rather than around town, and many on gravel roads where it is easier to get caught out and flip.

    The supervised driving is not the problem, it’s the sole (or with young mates) driving. Maybe a sort of taxi trick would work – all drivers in their first two years solo should have a surveillance camera. Doubt if it is workable but that is where the most risk could be observed.

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  9. Scott (1,804 comments) says:

    I am generally supportive of the changes. I think the move to limit the driving of high-powered vehicles by young people is conceptually a good one. It reminds me of the similar restrictions for new drivers of motorbikes.

    I am not a fan of young people driving high-powered vehicles which they can lose control of. So I think the moves of the government on this issue are reasonably sound. Anything that keeps our young people safe is good. And also helping them to develop good driving habits and skills is also a welcome aspect of this initiative.

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  10. RRM (9,932 comments) says:

    The benefits of the 120 hours of supervision depends of the quality of the person supervising.

    the 15–>16 change will not make a lot of difference to anything. Some 15yos are more mature and in control of their lives than some 16yos.

    Overall I think this is a step in the right direction (general view that driving needs to be taken more seriously) but I don’t expect to see any remarkable change in the safety of the roads and general quality of driving as a result of these changes.

    People need to be taught what losing control is like, and how (hard it is) to recover control, by a professional trainer on a racetrack or similar. My 2c.

    [EDIT - PS: Scott, you can lose control of a Morris Minor 850... if you are rash or incompetent enough.]

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  11. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Graeme

    OK I misspoke: are 15 yo LICENCE HOLDERS over-represented in the road accident stats?

    The last stats I saw, from insurance sources, was that 15-16 yo drivers were a lower risk than when they were a little older.

    Would someone please prove me wrong?

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  12. MT_Tinman (3,202 comments) says:

    The headline should read National Government condemns more youths to Death on Our Roads

    Even the brain-dead fuckwits should recognise that allowing a young person to learn to drive while they are still of an age where they will accept parental guidance and supervision as most 15yos still are makes more sense than throwing them the keys when they are in the grunting/we-know-everything-there-ever-was stage that hits all youth at about 16 years.

    Was this communist crowd actually interested in doing good rather than making populist gestures for the non-thinking masses they would instead have looked at improving and tightening driving tests, making defensive driving courses and tests compulsory and restricting the vehicles young people drive as well as where they drive.

    Nothing will stop idiots taking to the roads – just look at the numbers of completely incompetent old farts polluting the roads – but proper driving education and harder to get licenses will help.

    The supervision thing is of course utter bullshit window dressing unless it is supervision by licensed driving instructors and applies to ALL new drivers, no matter what age or whether they have a license from another country or not.

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  13. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    More time wasting, dick pulling, from the National socialists. For fucks sake is Steve Joyce minister of trivial pursuits, cellphones in cars, road law changing, older driver licenses. Has Steve been sent to amuse the masses?. While the populations attention is diverted to such trivia Rome burns. Are the National socialists that devoid of measures and ideas to bring this country out of the crap? More nanny state bullshit that will do fuck all of nothing.

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  14. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Scott 9:11 am,

    I am generally supportive of the changes. I think the move to limit the driving of high-powered vehicles by young people is conceptually a good one. It reminds me of the similar restrictions for new drivers of motorbikes.

    I’m with Scott on this – and have said similar when we’ve debated this issue before.

    Restricting the horse power output of a car for, say, the first two years after receiving a full license, would deal with much of the issues of young guys with high powered (turbos, etc) vehicles on the road. I believe the fact that these kinds of vehicles are relatively cheap and easily acquired is the main difference between now and when many of us got our first vehicle. For instance, my first car was a mkI Ford Escort 1100cc – not exactly a rocket ship, but it did the job and enabled me to develop my driving skills before graduating to more highly powered vehicles later on (eg I later owned a Subaru Legacy RS 2000 turbo 4wd – now THAT was a rocket ship).

    Of course, addressing the youth culture surrounding drinking (and how this affects youth driving) by raising the age back to 20 would be the other side of the coin. If these two issues were addressed instead of just putting the driving age up to 16 (or 17 for that matter) I think we may in fact achieve the desired result regarding youth accident statistics.

    And RRM 9:15 am,

    [EDIT - PS: Scott, you can lose control of a Morris Minor 850... if you are rash or incompetent enough.]

    While your comment is, of course, correct, I would argue that losing it in a highly powered turbo doing 150 ks may have a slightly different outcome to losing it in a Morrie 850 which may be lucky to actually make 80 ks with a strong tail wind. We all know if you’re driving a performance vehicle you tend to drive it like … well … a performance vehicle. Trust me, I’m speaking from personal experience having owned both performance and lesser cars.

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  15. Hagues (703 comments) says:

    Why don’t they just decide on a much higher level of competency required to gain a restricted licence and test at that level?

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  16. Nick Archer (136 comments) says:

    My thoughts based on recent and current first hand experience so I have been forced to think about learning to drive 24/7 for the whole year so far and am looking forward to not having to do so:

    I grew up in Nelson and used to hoon around a bit at 15 on my brother’s motorbike (without a licence) and only got around to getting my learners licence in 7th form back in 94 cause Nayland College had an after school course to do it. We watched videos and read the Road Code for 2 hours and the next afternoon everyone passed as it was common sense and we had good set of scratchy questions and onto it cop who asked questions about the DANGER stuff like intersections/giving way (where most accidents are).

    I then did about 4-5 driving lessons with an instructor in a late model (at the time) car that had power steering (so didn’t get an accurate FEEL nor learned yet how to read the road) and the instructor didn’t (or I can’t remember) instill the proper fundamentals like quarter to three hand position, keeping ankles on floor and NOT lifting my feet when changing gears and doing the 3-4 fundamental steps in manual gear changing (1. foot on clutch and foot off gas 2. only then move hand to gear stick and smoothly change gear in 2 or 3 steady movements depending where stick is and FINALLY foot off clutch and then back onto gas/or continue covering brake if applicable).

    After a couple of practice runs in my mother’s old Dihatsu Charade I gave up and eventually moved to Wellington in 96 and still have a Learners Licence as a car is a liability in Wellington City.

    BUT since then I have started learning to drive again this year from January as I will need a better licence for work and business reasons, I have an old school instructor now with an old school car that is solid (and you can FEEL everything happening) with a good rate charged and relearned from scratch as I was certainly rusty and had bad habits. I am also finally getting it hammered into my skull that changing gears in a car is different than on a motor bike (where you rush it).

    Am still doing my Saturday afternoon lessons (over 12 already and not ashamed either as I want to drive PROPERLY and SAFELY), I can drive more competently now but was seriously humbled last weekend when he got me to drive from town up Mt Vic (horrible, horrible roads) as it certainly brought out any residual weaknesses lurking in the background in my driving that are masked by saner roads than Mt Vic streets. These can only be hammered out by practice, practice, practice until it is automatic (and I vow never to wimp out and drive an automatic until I can drive 100% safely and competently a manual gear shift).

    The biggest challenge on the roads (especially Wellington) is that most other drivers (even so called experienced ones) around you aren’t very switched on so you have to drive defensively 100% of the time, a taxi driver the other day complained to me about this…

    Anyway, I got a CD in the mail from Practice they also have a website https://www.practice.co.nz/ THIS is where the Driving training industry is at (before the latest announcements), i.e. you read and reread Road Code, do Learners test on a computer now. My instructor mentioned (and was already being echoed by NZTA) that you need about 120 hours of driving before the brain has gotten used to all the factors (your body’s motor functions of hands and feet, your eye scanning and hazard detection and overall competence and common sense) so this probably explains why they are considering 120 hours enforced practice. The reasoning behind that is due to some studies etc that for the first 120 hours of driving experience you will have a higher accident rate than after you have been driving for about 120 hours. Also they have done videos with mounted helmets and learner drivers attention is focused only in one spot until they get used to being aware of what is around them and same driver after a lot more practice (with remarkable improvement), it is certainly taking me a while for my subconscious and conscious minds to get used to every process involved in driving.

    I personally think 120 hours is recommended but not really policeable in anyway but should only be recommended, there are too many impracticality reasons to police it strictly… But at end of day good practice is good.

    One real solution is like ‘Hagues’ says, Driving testers should take you on the HARDEST drive possible in locations you are sitting your restricted and full licence tests as it will indicate if you have gotten on top of everything yet to progress to next stage of licence for the roads you are likely to be driving for at least another 120 hours (in case you are winging it a bit).

    Personally I am going to keep practicing and do a defensive driving course when I get my restricted…

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  17. GJ (329 comments) says:

    I strongly disagree with the increase in the driving age and I am a long way over 50 years of age.
    The problem is we don’t teach people to drive correctly and have a driving test far too easy to pass! Zero skid and braking control which is just ridiculous! With our roads being so slippery after rain 80% of ALL drivers on NZ roads have no idea on skid recovery. I have followed cars into a corner and watched them crash and all that was required was basic skid recovery to avoid a major accident.
    Just compare a driver’s licence test with a private pilots test. A pilot has to have full competency in all of the problems and challenges they are likely to discover when flying like engine failure, aircraft spinning etc etc.
    Just look at our youth in go carts and on the race track. Don’t tell me a 15 year old is not capable of driving.
    All we need to do is teach them to drive correctly and bring in more accountability for behaviour.
    We have caused a bigger problem by removing corporal punishment from schools and now smacking from the family home. It is this lack of discipline in our society that is causing the majority of our problems!
    This is just another example of shutting a gate after the horse has bolted. Pass another law and hope the problem goes away!
    Give me a break. It’s time to wake up and take our heads out of the sand. Bring in strong accountability for wrong behaviour and many of these other problems will simply diminish.

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  18. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    GJ, I thought you were making sense until you got to:

    ?”We have caused a bigger problem by removing corporal punishment from schools and now smacking from the family home. It is this lack of discipline in our society that is causing the majority of our problems!”

    Smacking would make better drivers? Or would corporal punishment be than fines for those who break traffic laws?

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  19. RRM (9,932 comments) says:

    [Kris K]:
    While your comment is, of course, correct, I would argue that losing it in a highly powered turbo doing 150 ks may have a slightly different outcome to losing it in a Morrie 850 which may be lucky to actually make 80 ks with a strong tail wind. We all know if you’re driving a performance vehicle you tend to drive it like … well … a performance vehicle. Trust me, I’m speaking from personal experience having owned both performance and lesser cars.
    [/quote]

    Correct. But I think the problem there is the driver choosing to go 150km/h, not the car’s ability to more quickly attain that speed. Assuming a level playing field of legal speed, I daresay one could brake/avoid hazards far better in a Porsche 911 Turbo than in a Ford Laser. I.e. good cars are safer as long as the driver observes the rules. So in of themselves good cars are not the problem – although try explaining that to anyone who isn’t interested in cars!

    I think the current set of traffic rules are pretty sensible, they just need to be enforced. Unfortunately, vilification of the Police for enforcing speed limits is more de rigeur around here…

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  20. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    I have 4 teenage daughters and I think this change is just goofy. At the very least the increase in driving ages should be targetted at boys only.

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  21. GJ (329 comments) says:

    Pete George: No the point is that drivers no longer appreciate that it is a serious responsibility to drive what is potentially a lethal weapon. Once corporal punishment was removed from schools this was the start of removing consequences for wrong actions. The slide has continued and is reflected in poor driving behaviour and a lack of courtesy and consideration to other drivers. Just look how many sit in the outside lane of the motorways at 90 to 95 kph frustrating the heck out of the people behind them.
    They then in their frustration pass or change lanes suddenly or dangerously and cause an accident, whereas the problem started with the idiot sitting in the outside lane totally oblivious to all that is going on around them.

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  22. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    No-one is driving little old Morries and Prefects these days You find me any small car nowadays that can’t do 120kph or more and doesn’t accelerate like a rocket. Restricting new drivers to llow powered cars’ wont stop them wrapping themselves around a lampost or having a head on while carting around a car full of mates in contravention of their learners permit.

    My first car that I owned was a EH Holden station wagon with a 169 cubic inch six cylnder engine. It was big and slow. My little tiny Diahatsu Mira would have flogged it into last week in a race.

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  23. dave (988 comments) says:

    I wonder what will happen to this Government bill that is currently before the select committee that also raises the driving age.

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  24. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Some excellent rationalising against yet more nanny statism from National but I’m particularly struck by MT_Tinman’s point – better to teach them when they’re still susceptible to parental influence (not just learning the mechanics, which they’ll do at any age to get their hands on a licence). I hadn’t thought of that aspect of things but it makes a lot of sense.

    The other arguments against – such as the relative propensity of 15 and 16 year olds to have serious accidents – are fairly obvious (though no less valid) which means that either:

    1. The National Cabinet are a lot stupider than the average Kiwiblog reader (entirely possible, given we have a Minister of Unemployment who needs her briefings in pictogram form); or

    2. They know this stuff and are, as Luc Hansen says, merely pandering to the ignorant prejudices which many NZers seem only too happy to display.

    Assuming it’s option 2, it seems the dire predictions of many commenters that 9 years of socialism would lead to a complete abrogation of personal responsibility has indeed come to pass – “the road toll’s bad, can’t be my driving… yeah, let’s blame those damn teeangers”.

    It’s just ironic that that complete inability to accept responsibility, and the expectation that the government will fix everything, manifests in conservative slogans… “It’s the unemployed’s fault they don’t have a job”, “It’s other drivers’ fault the road toll is high”, “It’s someone else’s fault crime is rising and government can fix it by stacking prisons ten deep” etc etc.

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  25. CharlieBrown (1,014 comments) says:

    wow 120 hours supervised hours, I may as well get my pilots license… 50 hours, where 15 of those must be solo. Just shows that the nats are a bunch of reactionary, jump on the bandwagon, stupid, ill informed wankers.

    I will be sending in my submission but I don’t think good sense will find its way into their tiny populist brains.

    I’m actually looking forward to what Winston has to say as he does have a pretty good track record at doin what he campaigns to do (apart from outing national in 96)

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  26. jks (30 comments) says:

    As someone who has recently passed through the system I think it was far too easy. I found doing the defensive driving course useful, I’ve heard the idea somewhere to shift the course to be taught to learner license holders rather than restricted so drivers know the skills before they drive solo. I also like the idea of extending the learner period to one year. I think it would work well to do 1 year minimum learner license with compulsory defensive driving course before the restricted test, followed by 1 year restricted (provided they don’t get any demerits). Fits nicely too with partial rights at 16, full rights at 18.

    From a purely anecdotal perspective, the idea that somebody needs to drive solo by the school leaving age is silly, how many tradesmen are really going to let the apprentice take out their car during the first few months on the job unsupervised? And how many employers are even likely to have insurance cover for non full license holders? It’s usually those in the workforce rather than school and holding a restricted license who can afford the ‘rocket ships’ (especially if they’re still living at home)

    As someone who grew up somewhere semi-rural without public transport I do sympathise with people in rural areas, but if we give them exemptions where do we draw the line at what is rural and what isn’t, what consists adequate public transport, when and for what purposes the exemptions can be used? And then why not let twelve, thirteen and fourteen year olds in rural areas behind the wheel too, surely they have sports and other after school activities they need to attend too. Unfortunately isolation is just an issue you have to deal with if you choose to live in the country. That or move to town or send your kids to boarding school.

    @Brian Smaller, If you can get my Ford Laser (which I would say is a fairly typical type first car in the price range of a young person) to “accelerate like a rocket” I’ll give you the keys.

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