Drivers stay on restricted licences for over 10 years

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 12/01/2013

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South Canterbury drivers have spent as long as a decade on their restricted licences, but new rules will soon put a stop to that.

Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges said the Government would introduce changes forcing learner and restricted drivers to gain their full licences within five years.

The rules were likely to come into effect in 2015.

It is estimated that 37 per cent of the 294,000 learner driver's licence-holders nationwide have held it for more than six years, as well as 32 per cent of the 309,000 restricted licence-holders.

Several Timaru Herald readers posted on Facebook, saying they held on to their learner and restricted licences even longer. Their reasons ranged from the cost of driving lessons to simple procrastination.

Renee Palmer said she got her learner licence at 15, and her restricted at 21, but did not receive her full licence until she was 34.

Angela Coughlan said she spent 10 years on her learner licence, and then another 10 years on her restricted. "I never needed my full licence because all my friends had their full for over two years, so could be in the car with me, and I never drove at night because I was always at home with the kids at night," she said.

"I finally got my full only because my restricted was about to expire, so I had to pay to either renew or get my full."

Keryn Wright said she got her learner licence at 16 and her restricted at 25, but had not sat her full licence test.

South Canterbury road safety co-ordinator Daniel Naude supported the proposed changes, as well as the Government's recent raising of the minimum learners age to 16 and the strengthening of the restricted licence test.

"We have to take a wider approach, and that means tougher, and more varied lessons, where drivers experience a wider range of conditions," Mr Naude said.

Mr Bridges said the graduated licence system was never intended for drivers to stay on a learner or restricted licence indefinitely.

"If people successfully progress through the stages more quickly, we will be more confident they're fully competent drivers."

He said he had managed to get his full licence by his mid-20s.

"I'm ashamed to admit I failed my restricted licence test on my first two attempts.

"I was too fast on the first go, and too hesitant on the second. Like porridge, you've got to get it just right."

- with Fairfax NZ

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- The Timaru Herald

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