After much moaning and groaning by me regarding a poorly thought out law change pushed through over 7 years ago by the National government it appears that the Labour government has come come to sanity and reversed the decision (link). What was the poorly thought out decision that I am referring to? the decision to put a 2 year limit on learner/restricted licence on the along with the erroneous basis on which the decision was made. The erroneous decision was based on the notion that allowing people to say permanently on learners or restricted would serve as a disincentive to move to a full licence – and what basis did they make that? feedback by those who benefit from making an easy profit off people being pushed to have a full licence (regardless of whether they needed it or not) and ‘feel facts’ (‘which aren’t technically facts but feel true’, a term I borrowed from SNL (link)) made up by lobby groups whose narrow focus blinds them to the many possible scenarios that they haven’t considered.

The frequently asked questions pretty much goes into detail addressing why people never actually move on beyond either a learners or a restricted licence with the question: Why don’t licence holders progress to a full licence?

  • the cost of theory and practical tests
  • the cost of renewing the licence
  • no adequate supervision/training
  • no access to a road legal vehicle to be trained in, or to take to a practical test.
  • only needing a learner licence to ride a moped
  • only wanting a driver licence for identification
  • having other transport options
  • no access a vehicle to learn to drive
  • in the case of a restricted licence, only needing to transport children or a spouse.

When it comes to ID, there is the 18+ card now known as the Kiwi Access cad but the problem is that identity verification requires it to be used in conjunction with a birth certificate where as a drivers licence in almost every case is sufficient enough for ID. Then there is the scenario of given in the public submissions, for example on page 7 one submitter said their 78-year-old Grandmother has had her restricted for a long time and complies with conditions as she only drives by herself. (link) There were submitters also felt they should not be required to retake a theory test upon renewal for a licence they have already passed – a test would have to be reset every 5 years if one wishes to simply renew a learners licence. Then there is the biggest group I would say which are many university students, young adults and others who only have an interest in riding a moped and we can do so with a standard learners – so why force them to move to a full licence? thank goodness the government made the right decision in the end that’ll go back to the status quo.

Does the quality of drivers need to improve? yes, but limiting the length of time one can remain on learners or restricted doesn’t benefit anyone and certainly won’t improve the quality of drives. If these organisations were serious about improving the quality of drivers then I suggest they put their ‘feel facts’ to one side and focus on an alternative to the current model that focuses on ‘can the person put on a good show to pass a test’ in favour of a more exhaustive regiment over a set number of weeks. The goal with such a change would result in a restricted licence issued based on a regiment of the first week being the base line and the last week being an indicator as to whether the mentoring that the instructor has provided has been taken on board by the student via a visible improvement 6 weeks later (thus demonstrating a degree of humility by demonstrating that recognise they’re a student and take on board the feedback the instructor provides) vs 6 weeks later there is no improvement thus indicating they need to remain as a learner for longer (thus also demonstrating that they’re not willing to take on board advice and improve – they’ve convinced themselves that they’re already the expert and don’t need to improve thus it is doubtful giving them a restricted licence will result in them improving long term).