The Government has confirmed a series of rule changes it hopes will reduce the high rate of motorcycle accidents.
Transport Minister Steven Joyce said the changes would strengthen assessments and testing to ensure novice motorcyclists were better prepared to drive safely on the road.
The measures include restricting the use of powerful motorcycles by novice riders and setting the same restricted licence period for all learner motorcycle licences.
Mr Joyce said since 2003 motorcycle-related deaths increased by around 80 per cent, which coincided with a 68 per cent increase in the number of motorcycles in New Zealand.
"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."
The new rules contained in The Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Amendment Rule 2011 will come into force in October this year or October 2012.
The changes include:
* Introducing a power-to-weight restriction for novice motorcycle riders, replacing the current cc limit for novices. Learner motorcycle licence holders will only be able to ride motorcycles which do not exceed a power-to-weight ratio of 150 kilowatts per tonne;
* Removing the 70km/h speed limit restriction for learner motorcycle licence holders so they get more experience on the open road;
* Introducing a competency-based training and assessment option for novice motorcyclists and removing the option for motorcyclists to complete an approved car-focused driving course to reduce their time on a restricted motorcycle licence;
* Requiring all novice motorcyclists, regardless of age, to be subject to 18 months on a restricted licence, or 12 months if the rider completes the competency-based training and assessment.
A proposal to introduce a moped-specific licence was not included in the amendment, as that would require a major change, which did not offer the significant safety benefits of the other proposals, Mr Joyce said.
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. At present, they can only take these courses when on a restricted licence.