Young drivers

Learning to drive is an exciting part of growing up. It’s a step towards independence and freedom, but it can have adverse consequences. Being on the road does carry a risk and teenage drivers are more likely to crash than any other age group.

The highest risk of crashing is during the first six months of driving solo on the restricted licence, when experience is still low. 57% of young drivers involved in fatal crashes between 2010 and 2012 were either driving on their learner or restricted licenses, or were driving with no licence at all. Practice – the plan for learning to drive safely.

Overseas experience has shown that increasing the amount of supervised driving in the early phases of the licensing system is a key method of reducing novice driver crashes.

What’s the problem?

  • Young New Zealanders aged 16 to 24 years make up 14% of New Zealand’s driving population, yet are involved in around 37% of all fatal crashes and 38% of all serious injury crashes
  • Road crashes are the single greatest killer of 16 to 24 year olds, and the leading cause of their permanent injury
  • In 2012, young drivers aged 15 to 24 (the licensing age was increased to 16 in late 2011) were involved in 73 fatal traffic crashes and 549 serious injury crashes
  • Young drivers were ‘at fault’ in 81% of the fatal crashes and 78% of the serious injury crashes in 2012. (Data from the Centre for Road Safety Intelligence, 2013).

Drive – helping young people become confident and capable drivers

Drive is a free website and learning tool created to help for young people become confident and capable drivers.

Jointly created with the NZ Transport Agency, Drive covers everything young drivers need to know about the learner licence theory test and the restricted and full practical driving tests.

There’s an interactive road code full of games and quizzes, free video driving lessons to help you master the essentials of driving, a progress tracker and checklists, insider guides to the restricted and full licence practical tests, and resources for coaches helping people to drive.

Sign up to Drive when you start preparing to sit your learner licence.

Driver licence – what you need to know

What do you have to do to get a driver licence?

There are three stages to getting a driver licence – learner, restricted, and full. When on their learner and restricted licence, drivers have to meet certain conditions that limit what they can do. This system, the Graduated Driver Licensing System, is designed to assist drivers stay safe as they become more skilled and competent on the road. The NZ Transport Agency administers the licensing system. The Transport Agency website has Your Driver Licence section.

At what age can you get your drivers licence?

  • Learner licence – 16 years
  • Restricted licence – 16.5 years (and have held a learner licence at least 6 months)
  • Full licence – 18 years (and have held a restricted licence at least 18 months) or 17.5 years (and have held a restricted licence at least 12 months and completed an approved advanced driving course).

Note that there is also a zero alcohol limit for drivers under 20.

Updated: 15 June 2016

Reviewed: 22 December 2014