Northland teen motorists are being urged to stick to their driver licence conditions after research suggests many are breaking the law - often with their parents' permission.

A New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) survey of 574 parents found nearly half of young drivers on learner or restricted licences have broken at least one graduated licensing condition.

Almost 50 per cent of parents surveyed said their teen had driven unsupervised with friends in the car, while 17 per cent allowed it to happen at least once.

Just over a third of parents surveyed said their teen had driven after 10pm without a supervisor while on their restricted licence, with 16 per cent allowing it to happen at least once.


Northland has 3042 teen drivers aged between 16 and 19 on learner licences and 2238 on restricted licences, according to NZTA July figures.

Whangarei driving instructors were not surprised by the survey results.

St John Driving Academy senior driving instructor Gerry O'Connell said teenagers taking his defensive driving course freely admitted breaching their licence conditions.

"It's almost without exception they'll admit to having broken the curfew or carried passengers.

"They're very blase about it, it's just what they all do."

Northland Driving School's Layne Malshinger said many teenage drivers had the attitude that driving was "a right, not something that you have to earn".

"For far too long now it's been too easy to go out and get a licence.

"The further north you go, the more drivers you have without licences."


Automobile Association driving training manager Karen Dickson said she was surprised and disappointed by the survey's findings.

"We think that's a shame because the rules are put there to protect us all."

NZTA road safety director Ernst Zollner said a range of measures introduced in recent years had helped to cut the number of fatal and serious injury crashes involving teenage drivers from 475 in 2008 to 257 last year.

But it was important that young drivers complied with their graduated licensing conditions to acquire the skills and maturity needed to become safe drivers.

New Zealand's graduated licensing system requires learner drivers to be supervised at all times when driving, while drivers on a restricted licence cannot carry passengers or drive between 10pm and 5am without the supervision of a fully-licensed driver.

Parenting expert/psychologist Nigel Latta said it was important for parents to stay involved in their teen's driving even when they got their restricted licence.