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Motorcycle licensing changes announced

Motorcycle licensing changes announced

The government has confirmed a series of Rule changes that will improve the licensing and safety of motorcycle riders.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce says the changes will strengthen assessments and testing to ensure novice motorcyclists are better prepared to drive safely on the road.

"Motorcyclists are 20 times more at risk of being involved in a fatal or serious injury crash than car drivers per kilometre driven. With more new motorcyclists every day, these steps are vital to keep riders safe on the road"

Since declining in the late 1990s, motorcycle-related deaths have increased by around 80 percent since 2003. This has coincided with a 68 percent increase in the number of motorcycles in New Zealand.

The Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Amendment Rule 2011 contains a number of actions to improve the safety of motorcyclists, which will come into force in October this year or October 2012. These actions include:

* Introducing a power-to-weight restriction for novice motorcycle riders. This replaces the current cc limit for novices, which is no longer adequate for the range of high-powered, but low cc, motorcycles on the market.

* Removing the 70km/h speed limit restriction for learner motorcycle licence holders. There is little evidence this provides any safety benefit, and removing it will allow novices to gain open road experience.

* Introducing a competency-based training and assessment option for novice motorcyclists and remove the option for motorcyclists to complete an approved driving course (such as Defensive Driving or Street Talk) to reduce their time on a restricted motorcycle licence. These courses are generally car driver focused.

* Requiring all novice motorcyclists, regardless of age, to be subject to the same minimum time requirements at the restricted licence stage. Currently, over 25 year olds have a shorter time requirement on the restricted licence before they may progress to a full licence.

"The government's Safer Journeys road safety strategy identified motorcycle safety as a priority area where New Zealand could do better," says Mr Joyce.

"These measures will help motorcyclists start their riding careers safely, while other work such as improvements to our roads will help create a safer riding environment."

"Safety initiatives led by and for motorcyclists are also being developed by MOTO, the Motorcycle Safety Council. This group is funded by the motorcycle safety levy."

A proposal to introduce a moped-specific licence has not been progressed as part of this Rule.

"Moped licences would require major change and they don't yet appear to offer the significant safety benefits of these other proposals. This measure will be delayed so that the NZ Transport Agency can prioritise the other actions in this package," says Mr Joyce.

In addition to changes for motorcyclists, the amendment Rule makes a change to allow novice car drivers to take approved courses in the learner licence stage. Currently they may only take these courses when on a restricted licence.

A full list of provisions in the Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Amendment Rule 2011, as well as more information on changes to motorcycle licensing, is available on the NZ Transport Agency website at:

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