You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
The announcement of an immediate review of the graduated driver licensing system has been welcomed by, among others, motorsport champion and road safety advocate Greg Murphy. While not all may agree with his view the existing system is broken and regressive, we know many drivers get stuck in the system and do not reach full licence status.
Announcing the review this week and the two-year reprieve for more than 144,000 on learner and restricted licences due to expire in December 2021, associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter said there were many reasons why people did not move on to the next licensing stage.
The five-year limit on the time for those on these licences, without having to re-sit the theory test, was introduced in 2014.
That followed concern too many novice car drivers and motorcyclists were not moving up the system to full licensing and so had not demonstrated they had the skills and competence to drive safely on the roads.
Ms Genter said time-limited licences made sense in theory, but there also had to be acknowledgement that people without the resources, training or support to pass the tests risked becoming unlicensed when the time was up.
One issue highlighted in recent years is the number of drivers who fail practical tests.
Publicity given to instances where failures were due to apparently minor errors may have also put off some new drivers.
One young driver who failed because he bumped the kerb during his parallel parking described it as demoralising to drive home with his licensed driver to see other drivers behaving badly, including texting and not signalling when changing lanes. He asked whether the test could be shown to make sure drivers were safe.
Murphy wants the review to include examining the value of sitting a final full licence test and whether defensive driving courses are delivering a positive outcome, statistically.
Drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 are at a disproportionately higher risk of crashes than the rest of the population.
The 2016 Auckland Co-Design Lab's Driver Licensing Challenge report said in some cases the enforcement regime around driver licensing could be increasing the likelihood of reoffending.
It said 85% of drivers aged 16 to 24 breached their learner or restricted licence conditions, while 40,000 young people were ticketed for breaches annually, but many did not pay their fines, making driver licence offences a "primary gateway into the justice system".
One suggestion from the lab was a merit points system to recognise and reward compliance by new and learner drivers, rather than just punish them for wrongdoing.
In recent years, there has been an increase in work done by various groups around the country to help people, including prisoners, to get driver's licences. In June, the Government also introduced a scheme, including the cost of professional driving lessons, to help those receiving the youth or young parent payment or in Oranga Tamariki care.
More is needed. Over the next two years, the Government will launch a communication campaign encouraging drivers to progress, develop additional programmes to help disadvantaged young drivers access licensing, and expand access to driver training and resources in schools.
Murphy sees the biggest barriers to gaining a full driver's licence as access and affordability. He estimates in many provincial areas it costs an average of $1000 to gain a full licence.
The lab report questioned the user-pays model which is based on the premise the individual receives all the benefits of being licensed. It argued there were considerable social and economic benefits when uptake of licensing was high and costs to bear when people opted out.
The detail of the Government review has not been spelled out, but hopefully it will draw on a wide range of views and expertise to ensure any future changes are practical and likely to improve road safety.