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Driver Licensing Changes

August 17 2001 Media Statement

Driver Licensing Changes

Transport Minister Mark Gosche today announced changes to the driver licensing system which include a package of new initiatives:

- changes in fees, including lower fees for older drivers,
- administrative changes to make the older driver testing and licensing system more "user friendly"
- financial support to rural school bus drivers
- a $9 million new school road safety education programme and
- a pilot programme for novice drivers.

An independent review of the licensing system, released by the Minister today, made it clear that most licensing and testing fees have to go up to cover the actual costs involved.

"Most driver licensing fees are not currently covering the costs involved. The fees were based on estimates of what those costs might be before the system started. Now that it has been running for just over two years it is clear the actual costs are greater than estimated."

The Land Transport Safety Authority had been meeting the shortfall between the actual costs and the current charges. As a result it is losing about $350,000 a month, or $4.2 million a year, Mr Gosche said.

"This clearly could not be continued."

At the same time, the government has decided that the current subsidy for all general licences is better targetted to those in greater need. As a result the price of a ten year licence is to increase by about approximately $15.

The previous government had agreed to contribute approximately $1.78 million a year to subsidise the ten year licence renewal fee until June 2009. Instead of spending that money on the general population it would be shifted to help older drivers and rural bus drivers, Mr Gosche said.

"As a result older drivers will pay significantly less for their licensing fees in future."

The price of a licence for older drivers is likely to fall from $37.50 (drivers aged 75-79) or $36 (aged 80 or more) to about $18.30.

These figures, and other proposed fee changes, are approximate only at present because they will not be confirmed until after public consultation.

¡§Older drivers face higher costs than most motorists because they must sit a driving test and renew their licence every two years after they turn 80. The Government is committed to reducing the financial burden on these drivers."

"For that reason I am also proposing that those who fail their first attempt at the older driver practical test be allowed their first re-sit of the test at no cost."

As well as proposing fee changes, the review also found that changes were needed to the administration of the driver licensing system to make it more sensitive to people's needs.

The government had a range of proposals to make the system more "user friendly" for novice drivers and older drivers particularly, Mr Gosche said.

One plan was to make it easier for older drivers to apply for a conditional licence, which allow them to get a licence with restrictions attached.

"For instance they may be limited to driving in low-speed zones, or to driving during the day. Of course such a licence would only be granted if we were certain safety was not compromised."

"The aim is to give older drivers better support. We want to help them keep their licences as long as practicable, to help them maintain their independence and mobility."

Financial support would also be given to acknowledge school bus drivers who are often working for the community and for only a few hours each week, mainly in rural areas, said Mr Gosche.

¡§We are also exploring ways to improve driver training,¡¨ said Mr Gosche.

¡§New Zealand does not have a good safety record on the roads and the Government is committed to changing that. I am therefore introducing a new road safety programme in schools, and a pilot initiative for novice driver training."

The primary and intermediate school road safety initiative would be based on a successful programme piloted around New Zealand which incorporated road safety messages into all aspects of the curriculum.

The novice driver training pilot would start in the middle of next year. Training will include behind-the-wheel vehicle control, risk management, hazard perception and driver attitude.

Other changes to make the driver testing and licensing system more user-friendly were already underway, Mr Gosche said. The Land Transport Safety Authority (LTSA), for instance, has provided visual aids to help organisations such as Age Concern prepare older drivers for their practical driving tests.

LTSA had also responded to complaints about the time taken in some areas to sit licence tests and trained and deployed more testers in those areas.

"Other policy changes to make the system more sensitive are likely once the government has had more time to consider the issues and these changes will be incorporated into an amended driver licensing rule."

Mr Gosche said that overall the driver licensing system was working well to improve road safety. The police report that the number of offences involving disqualified drivers dropped by 34.3 per cent in the year to April, compared to the year before the system was introduced.

Disqualified or unlicensed drivers feature significantly in road crashes ¡V they cause about one in ten fatal road crashes.

The fee increases are likely to take effect on December 31. Financial assistance would be available through WINZ for those who suffered hardship as a result of the increases, Mr Gosche said.

A copy of the Review of the Cost and Management of the Driver Licensing Regime is available on the Internet at www.transport.govt.nz.

A chart of the proposed fee increases is attached.


ENDS

Changes to driver licensing fees

The proposed fee changes are:
Cost Current Fee Proposed Fee
Full licence (all classes) $44.30 $45.00 $44.30*
Renewal of licence $44.30 $29.50 ¢X $44.30
Learner licence (all classes) $39.30 $33.50 $39.30
Restricted licence (class 1 & 6) $39.30 $33.50 $39.30
Older Driver Licence 75-79 years $40.30 $37.50 $18.30*
Older Driver Licence 80 years + $40.30 $36.00 $18.30*
Limited Licence $46.50 $47.10 $46.50*
Replacements $31.10 $29.50 $31.10
Endorsements ¡V I, O New (5 years ) $276.75 $214.00 $276.75
Endorsements ¡V I, O New (1year ) $72.60 $75.50 $72.60*
Endorsements ¡V I, O, Renewals (5 years) $273.50 $198.50 $273.50
Endorsements ¡V I, O, Renewals (1 year) $70.65 $61.50 $70.65
Endorsements ¡V P, V New (5 years) $272.75 $185.50 $272.75
Endorsements ¡V P, V New (1year) $70.10 $75.50 $70.10
Endorsements ¡V P, V, Renewals (5 years) $256.90 $180.00 $256.90
Endorsements ¡V P, V, Renewals (1 year) $63.20 $58.00 $63.20
Vetting ¡V per year $28.20 $28.20 $28.20
ID Card ¡V issued with endorsement $8.50 $8.50 $8.50
ID Card Replacement $11.70 $20.50 $11.70*
Endorsements ¡V R,F,W,T,D $37.20 $33.00 $37.20
Endorsements ¡V D Renewal $37.20 $32.50 $37.20
GDLS Exemption $22.20 $18.00 $22.20
Information Requests $9.10 $17.50 $9.10*
Overseas Conversions $44.30 $48.00 $44.30*
Driver Testing ¡V Learner $39.70 $31.00 $39.70
Driver Testing ¡V Restricted $48.90 $41.00 $48.90
Driver Testing ¡V Full Class 1 $70.80 $62.00 $70.80
Driver Testing ¡V Full Class 2,3,4,5 $48.90 $41.00 $48.90
Driver Testing ¡V Full Class 6 $70.80 $62.00 $70.80
Driver Testing ¡V Older Driver $48.90 $41.00 $41.00
* denotes where fees will fall
¢X denotes a fee currently subsidised
Explanation of table
Licence Classes
There are six licence classes. Vehicles are distinguished by weight and type.

Class 1
The basic car licence. It covers vehicles or combinations of vehicles which have a Gross Laden Weight (GLW) or Gross Combined Weight (GCW) of 4,500 kg or less.
Class 2
The medium rigid vehicle licence. It covers:
„h rigid vehicles with a GLW of more than 4,500 kg but less than 15,001 kg;
„h combination vehicles with a GCW of 12,000 kg or less;
„h combination vehicles consisting of a rigid vehicle with a GLW of 15,001 kg or less towing a light trailer; or
„h rigid vehicles with a GLW of more than 15,001 kg with no more than 2 axles; and vehicles covered in Class 1.
Class 3
The medium combination licence. It covers:
„h combination vehicles with a GCW of more than 12,000 kg but less than 25,001 kg; and vehicles covered in classes 1 and 2.
Class 4
The heavy rigid licence. It covers:
„h rigid vehicles with a GLW of more than 15,000 kg; or
„h combination vehicles consisting of a rigid vehicle of more than 15,000 kg towing a light trailer; and vehicles covered in classes 1 and 2, but not class 3.
Class 5
The heavy combination vehicle licence. It covers:
„h combination vehicles with a GCW of more than 25,000 kg; and vehicles covered by classes 1, 2, 3 and 4.
Class 6
The motorcycle licence, which includes any motorcycle, moped, or all-terrain vehicle.
Endorsements
Endorsements allow licence holders to operate vehicles for a specific purpose. The available endorsements are:
„h Passenger (P);
„h Vehicle recovery (V);
„h Driving instructor (I);
„h Testing officer (O);
„h Dangerous goods (D);
„h Special-type vehicle - forklift (F);
„h Special-type vehicle - rollers (R);
„h Special-type vehicle - track (T);
„h Special-type vehicle - wheels (W).

GDLS
Graduated driver licensing system

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