Matt Greenop on motoring
Matt Greenop is editor of Driven magazine

Matt Greenop: Toughen up and learn to drive in two years

Nearly 110,000 people in NZ have been on their learner licences for over six years. Photo / Thinkstock
Nearly 110,000 people in NZ have been on their learner licences for over six years. Photo / Thinkstock

The news that getting your driver's licence could mean actually putting in a bit of effort has been met with a storm of bleating from some quarters.

Some staggering figures came out this week with new rules around getting that all-important plastic card.

It seems, to some, it's not all that important. There are nearly 110,000 who have been on their learner licences for over six years; there's just under 100,000 when it comes to restricted licences.

• Read more Driver's licence changes - progress or resit
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This is utter madness - the fact that these licences have been allowed to stay valid for six years when at the very bottom of the motoring foodchain is mind-blowing.

From December 1, people who don't progress within five years will have to sit their theory test again. Crikey.

The GDLS (Graduated Driver Licensing System), according to Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse, is designed so new drivers and motorbike riders move from a learner licence to restricted, and then to full, within "a reasonable period". Five years is not reasonable at all. Learning anything needs hard work, and a plan to work from - particularly when you're supposedly learning skills that can impact the lives of anyone else on the road.

Two years should be the absolute maximum amount of time a learner should be given to learn. If it doesn't happen, start again.

We haven't exactly got the best standards of driving training in New Zealand, due in no small part to privatising something that should be guarded by government and not potentially compromised by commercial viability.

If we're going to let people out on the roads, I think it's important to teach people to drive properly - and allowing a five-year gap between taking a multi-guess test and sitting a practical exam is not how it should be done.

• Do you think five years is too long to have a learner licence?
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- NZ Herald

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