A driver licence has been called the key to the door of life’s opportunities, but some people are missing out because of barriers in the driver licensing system.
Not having a driver licence can affect people’s access to employment, training, community activities, and health services for themselves and their families.
We set up the Driver Licensing Improvement Programme (DLIP) to reduce these barriers and make getting a New Zealand driver licence more accessible and equitable (fair) for people across Aotearoa New Zealand, no matter where they live.
Our focus is on groups that are overrepresented in the 10% of people who face significant barriers to getting a driver licence:
A big part of the mahi is finding ways to better respond to Māori aspirations for the system and deliver solutions that meet their needs.
Better access to driver licensing will improve employment opportunities and community participation, resulting in more drivers trained to drive safely.
Guided by Te Tiriti o Waitangi, we’re actively looking for ways our tiriti partners can help shape the system to meet the needs of Māori - including how we design, implement, and partner on changes to the driver licensing system.
An important part of this is meaningful and effective engagement with our tiriti partners and providers who know their communities well.
The Driver Licensing Improvement Programme is a collaboration led by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency working closely with:
The programme also has support from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and the Driving Change Network.
We've had kōrero with people involved in driver licensing across Aotearoa about the barriers people in their communities face, how we can reduce those barriers, and the ideas they have for a more equitable (fair) and accessible driver licensing system.
From this feedback we identified some changes we could make quickly to improve driver licensing and other changes that’ll take more time to develop and put in place.
We’ve made good progress on the improvements we can make quickly.
We introduced a new type of driver testing officer – community driver testing officers, who provide focused support for communities that struggle with accessing driver testing.
We added more driver test routes – practical testing sites - and we’ve made mobile theory testing available in more areas.
We’re developing more regional support as well as partnering on community trials in Tairāwhiti (Gisborne) and the Far North to improve access to driver testing.
A new type of driver testing officer, called community driver testing officers or CDTOs, has been introduced to support community driver training and mentoring programmes.
By the end of January 2024, there were 3447 test passes through new community testing officers. That’s 3447 people who previously had difficulty accessing the driver licensing system who now have a driver licence.
66% of these people live in a rural or remote location.
To improve access to testing, we’re adding new testing routes across Aotearoa, mainly in smaller and more remote centres.
Working with AA, we’re trialling mobile theory testing through a community provider to see if it’s an effective way to reach people who’ve had difficulty accessing learner testing. especially people living in remote rural communities.
In September 2023 a trial started with Eastbay REAP (Rural Education Activities Programme) in Ōpōtiki, Bay of Plenty, to test the impact of having a community provider offering mobile theory testing in their rohe.
We've introduced new regional advisors to strengthen and develop community driver training and mentoring programmes in communities around Aotearoa. This will help our regions and communities to give better access and support to learner drivers.
Three safer driver education advisors have also been appointed. They’re working alongside community providers to create quality learning resources for driver training programmes.
A testing administration role is also being created to improve access to group bookings for community providers.
Waikato, Taranaki, Wellington
Bay of Plenty and Tairāwhiti
Hawke's Bay and Central (Manawatu and Wairarapa)
Marlborough, Nelson, Kaikōura and West Coast
Southland, Canterbury, Otago Regional Advisor
Toni Fauonuku, based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland
Makareta McDonnell, based in Hawke’s Bay
Angela McDonnell, based in Christchurch
We’ve partnered with Far North REAP (Rural Education Activities Programme) and Tairāwhiti REAP to trial new ways of making access to driver testing for restricted and full licences faster and easier.
These trials have been in place since June 2022.
A third trial started with Eastbay REAP in Ōpōtiki, Bay of Plenty, in September 2023, to test the provision of mobile theory testing by a community provider for the first time.
What we learn from these community trials will help us develop a more effective driver licensing system.
The impact of these community initiatives on the lives of people in both Tairāwhiti and the Far North is shown in these stories and videos.
We’re working on developing a case for government funding. The case shows why we need change in the driver licensing system to improve access and equity. It outlines what our future driver licence system could look like, and how we’ll achieve that over a number of years
As part of Budget 2022, the Government announced $86.5 million in funding to support 64,000 more people to get driver licenses. The funding is for driver licensing support and removing barriers for people who have trouble getting a driver licence.
A list of MSD approved providers who received funding for year 2 is now available.
Our newsletter Improving Driver Licensing gives updates on how the work toward better access to driver licensing is progressing.