The country's most at-risk drivers are getting a helping hand.
The Automobile Association today launches its Ignition programme, which gives three free driving lessons to new learner drivers who are, or are related to, AA members.
AA Driving School general manager Nigel Clark said the initiative, an extension of a previous one-lesson offer, aimed to help young drivers before they picked up bad habits.
"We are trying to get hold of our young drivers and give them the right skills and the right attitude right at the beginning of their driving period so hopefully they will keep those driving habits and those attitudes right throughout their lives," he said.
"The AA is taking a leadership role in improving driving standards in New Zealand with the objective of reducing death and serious injury among our young drivers."
Mr Clark expects more than 500 new drivers a month to take up the three-lesson offer, which he said was worth about $200 a person and available to those who had held a learner licence for less than two months.
The lessons develop drivers' skills over an extended period, and parents and guardians are encouraged to ride along.
There are 5000 or 6000 new learner drivers each month, who must be aged 16 or older and achieve the standard by passing a theory test.
About half of New Zealand's newest motorists fail their restricted licence driving test and are over-represented in road death and serious injury statistics.
The AA will hire 50 new driving instructors to deliver the new service. Lessons normally cost $70 each.
A youth membership is $39 a year, while adults pay $79. In Auckland, those charges are $44.50 and $89 respectively.
Teenager rates instructor's tips over family's lessons
Teenager Sophia Lam says driving with a professional instructor is more educational than driving lessons with her parents.
Sophia Lam, 16, has benefited from the AA's free driving-lesson scheme. Photo /
"I learnt a lot of new skills, like looking over my shoulder when I am driving and how to park parallel," said the 16-year-old learner driver.
"It also took skills that I already knew and improved on them."
Though the Year 12 student at Elim Christian College in Botany Downs is not eligible to sit her restricted licence until January, she said she felt better prepared after the driving lesson that was part of the AA's Free Driving Lesson Programme.
"Everything was explained much better. With my family, I just tend to block them out, but with an instructor you're supposed to listen, so you take in more information than you would with your family."
Sophia, who had previously practised driving in her Flat Bush neighbourhood, was also forced to drive on new roads when she went to the AA centre in Manukau.
She qualified for the free lesson because her dad, Tah Lam, signed her up to the AA when she first passed her learner licence test.