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Commercial transport

We regulate transport service operators – that is, anyone who transports people and goods for a living.

Regulated parties

  • 2–5 licence-holders (all heavy vehicles): 390,000 driver licences in the system
  • Goods services licence-holders: 75,000 current licence-holders, with 25,000 currently active
  • Large passenger service licence-holders (eg, bus companies): 1,400 active, but 27,000 in system
  • Small passenger services licence-holders: 28,000 licence-holders, and 17,500 actively using them – mostly taxis and ride-sharing organisations
  • Vehicle recovery service licence-holders (towing companies): 1,400 current licence-holders, of which 500 are active
  • Rental service licence-holders (for rental cars, motorhomes and truck rentals): 3,700 in the system, and around 800 are active.

We see everyone in the system as being part of a chain of responsibility, which means anyone in that chain can be held accountable for non-compliance or influencing someone to break the rules – including the driver, operator, dispatcher, and even the customer.

Commercial driving chain of responsibility

Safety risks for commercial operators

We focus on things that prevent harm to people, and we’ve built our regulatory response around those safety risks. Our top priorities are:

  • Speed – which is a significant determinant to the outcome and/or severity of crashes
  • Driver impairment – including fatigue, worktime breaches, drugs and distraction
  • Restraints – wearing seatbelts can improve a driver’s chance of survival by 40 percent
  • Vehicle safety – regular maintenance, repairs and safety checks decrease the chances of a vehicle failing on the road and causing harm.

Regulatory mechanisms

As regulator, we use a range of approaches and interventions to ensure commercial operators and drivers are safe and comply with the law.

  • Licensing – Commercial drivers must pass stringent tests to acquire the right licence for their commercial operations, whether that’s driving a truck, bus or taxi. We have the power to suspend, disqualify or revoke heavy vehicle licences (class 2-5) for up to ten years if drivers consistently compromise road safety.
  • Endorsements – To carry passengers, recover vehicles, and become a driving instructor or testing officer, you’ll need to have a special endorsement from us. To apply, you’ll need to have the right kind of driver licence, have the right to work in New Zealand, pass our fit and proper person assessment, and be in good health.
  • Worktime – To reduce fatigue, we set rules around work hours and rest breaks for commercial drivers. Hours must be recorded in a logbook, which we have the power to audit.
  • Road user charges (RUC) – Safety improvements and maintenance to the roading network are reliant on users contributing their fair share. While most road users pay for this through levies at the pump, heavy vehicle drivers and other diesel fuel users are required to pay for their road use via the RUC, which is worked out on the total kilometres travelled per vehicle each year.
  • Compliance action We regularly review, audit and investigate safety practices of regulated parties. Where interventions are needed, we might educate them, impose conditions, suspend or revoke their licences or appointments – depending on the severity of the issue.
  • Certificate of fitness (CoF) and warrant of fitness (WoF) – All commercial vehicles must have a valid CoF or WoF to ensure they’re up to the right standard to be on the road.
  • Permitting – There are strict controls on the weight and axle loads of heavy vehicles, and any excess load requires a valid permit to ensure it’s safe.
  • Weigh Right – the programme uses roadside technology and intelligent software to direct potentially overloaded vehicles to commercial vehicle safety centres for assessment.

Read more about commercial transport, including permitting, RUC, worktime, Weight Right and more

Find out about commercial licensing and endorsements

View media release: Road safety is primary goal for new monitoring regime targeting the worst-offending heavy vehicle drivers – 9 May 2019