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Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Exhaust Emissions 2007

This rule applies to motor vehicles that are required to be certified for entry into, or operation in, service. It is aimed at achieving improvements in air quality by reducing the levels of harmful emissions from motor vehicles. 

Rule versions

  • The ‘Current rule’ will give you the most up-to-date version of the Rule and any amendments made to it. We recommend this as your reference point if you want to read the most current information.
  • The ‘Original rule and amendments’ will give you the very first version of the rule (as it was when it was first created) as well as links to all amendments made to it over time. We recommend this page as your reference page if you want to research the history of the rule.

Note: Both of these pages will also provide links to the consultation material – such as summary of submissions and FAQs (questions and answers) – for each version and amendment.

Questions and answers

Questions and answers are provided to accompany a new rule or amendment when they are signed. These and other consultation documents on this page have not been updated to take into account any later rule amendments and are retained for historic interest only.

Land Transport Rules – questions & answers

Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Amendment Rule 2011

Rule 91001/7

Questions and answers

What is the context for this amendment Rule?

To deliver some of the first actions from Safer Journeys: New Zealand's road safety strategy 2010 – 2020, significant legislative changes are needed.

These changes have been made by two separate pieces of legislation:

  • the Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Amendment Rule (the amendment Rule), which these Q&As cover; and
  • the Land Transport (Road Safety and Other Matters) Amendment Act, (the Amendment Act) which was passed into law in May 2011.

Some of the proposed 'packages' of changes from Safer Journeys are split between the Amendment Act and the amendment Rule.

Other changes that will improve the integrity of the driver licensing system and clarify existing requirements are also in the amendment Rule.

Why has this Rule been changed?

The amendment Rule makes changes to the Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Rule 1999 (the Driver Licensing Rule).

The amendment Rule aims to:

  • enhance land transport safety
  • improve the integrity of the driver licensing system
  • make business processes clearer and simpler.

As mentioned above, some of the changes in this amendment Rule are needed to implement aspects of Safer Journeys. These changes include measures to improve the on-road safety of young and novice drivers and motorcyclists in order to reduce their over-representation in crashes.

Other changes specifically around the driver licensing system aim to:

  • create greater safeguards against attempts to obtain a driver licence fraudulently
  • tighten security around obtaining a driver licence and the use of a temporary licence during an application or when sitting a test
  • clarify requirements for overseas drivers
  • improve consistency within the Driver Licensing Rule and with other pieces of legislation
  • improve business processes, resulting in cost savings for the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) and a reduction in compliance costs for applicants.

What is the statutory basis for the amendment Rule?

The Land Transport Act 1998 (the Act) allows the Minister of Transport to make Land Transport Rules. Rules are drafted in plain English and go through an extensive consultation process with interested groups and the public. This is to ensure that they are easily understood and are widely complied with. Most Rules are drafted by the NZTA under contract to the Ministry of Transport and, like regulations, have the force of law. Some Rules, (the Driver Licensing Rule and the Road User Rule), however, are drafted by the Parliamentary Counsel Office and are published as Statutory Regulations.

Section 154 of the Act empowers the Minister to make Land Transport Rules, to put in place a system and provide for the licensing of drivers of motor vehicles.

What has changed following the Rule amendment?

The questions and answers relating to provisions of the amendment Rule come under the following categories:

Motorcycle licensing

  • 1. Motorcycle-specific training for applicants for restricted and full motorcycle licences
  • 2. Introduction of a power-to-weight limit for learner and restricted motorcycle riders
  • 3. Standardisation of the minimum requirements for all novice motorcycle riders at restricted licence stage
  • 4. Removal of the 70km/h speed limit restriction for learner riders

Driver licensing

  • 5. Licence card appearance
  • 6. Ability to introduce changing security technologies
  • 7. Use of temporary licences
  • 8. Evidence of identity
  • 9. Photographic likeness of licence holders
  • 10. Extension of expiry of existing licence when adding new licence classes

Novice drivers

  • 11. Supervisor of a learner driver
  • 12. Approved courses for learner drivers
  • 13. Holders of restricted licences carrying parents as passengers

Overseas drivers

  • 14. Licence conversion and applicants for a Passenger (P) endorsement
  • 15. International driving permits
  • 16. Surrender of overseas driver licence
  • 17. Drivers with an expired New Zealand licence and a current overseas licence

General licensing

  • 18. Suspension of course providers' operations
  • 19. Extension of weight limits for Class 1

Commercial drivers

  • 20. Fast-tracking employees to higher licence classes
  • 21. Approved courses for teaching and assessing holders of Classes 2-5 licence

Motorcycle licensing

How will the amendment Rule impact on motorcycle safety?

The amendment Rule will progress Safer Journeys' actions aimed at ensuring novice motorcycle riders are better equipped with the experience and skills necessary to be effective and safe riders.

The amendments that affect motorcyclists are based on the best-practice motorcycle licensing and training model developed by Monash University, Australia. This model is in practice in a number of Australian states, and those jurisdictions have a significantly lower motorcycle crash risk than in New Zealand. Our existing motorcycle licensing regime already contains some elements of the model.

1. Motorcycle-specific training for applicants for restricted and full motorcycle licences

What is the current process for gaining a motorcycle licence?

The motorcycle Graduated Driver Licensing System (motorcycle GDLS) comprises three stages – learner, restricted and full licence. To gain a learner (6L) licence, a novice motorcycle rider must pass a theory test and the Basic Handling Skills Test (BHST). After holding their learner licence for six months, they may then get a restricted (6R) licence, if they pass the restricted licence test.

To get a full licence, the rider must hold the 6R licence for 18 months (or for six months if aged 25 or over). The rider must also pass the full licence test. (Time spent in the restricted phase can be reduced by successfully completing an approved driving course).

Why are changes necessary?

Unlike car learner licence holders, learner motorcyclists are not supervised. The crash risk is very high for this group of novice motorcyclists. Motorcycle casualties (fatalities and injuries) have almost doubled since 2001, from 704 to 1377 in 2009. In that period, there was a 67 percent increase in the number of licensed motorcycles.

In 2009, 48 motorcyclists were killed, 460 were seriously injured, and a further 909 suffered minor injuries The social cost of these crashes was $595 million¹. A motorcycle rider is, on average, 20 times more at risk of suffering death or serious injury than a car driver over the same distance travelled².

¹Social cost is an internationally accepted measure for estimating the cost of road crashes to society. It is made up of a number of elements including loss of life and life quality, loss of output due to temporary incapacitation, medical costs, legal costs and property damage costs. The June 2010 social cost estimates are $3,584,000 for a death, $632,000 for a serious injury, and $83,000 for a minor injury. These figures are national averages, and total social cost calculations take into account urban, rural and regional differences.

²The New Zealand Travel Survey 2010.

What changes will be made to the current motorcycle licensing requirements?

A large proportion (ie 25 of the 35 questions) of the current motorcycle theory test covers general road rules; the remaining 10 questions cover safety practices that relate to motorcycles. It will be redeveloped to place more emphasis on motorcycle-specific requirements. The BHST for motorcyclists will also be strengthened to include additional skills such as hazard perception.

Competency Based Training Assessments (CBTA) will be introduced in the learner and restricted phases as an alternative to taking the restricted and full motorcycle tests. The CBTA will ensure that motorcyclists have the necessary skills to ride on the road and that these skills are adequately assessed. CBTA will teach and assess key skills such as hazard detection, advanced handling skills, urban road riding, open road riding, motorcycle safety checks and emergency stopping.

CBTA will come into force on 1 October 2012. This will allow time to develop the assessments and make the necessary changes to the IT systems to support the new process, and ensure that all the changes to the motorcycle licensing and testing regime come into force as a single package. CBTA will be optional, and the current testing process will remain an option for novice motorcyclists.

Will novice riders still be able to reduce the mandatory minimum time spent on a restricted licence by completing the existing approved advanced driving course?

No. The option for motorcyclists to complete an approved advanced driving course (Defensive Driving or Street Talk) to reduce their time on a restricted motorcycle licence will be removed. Completing the CBTA course will be the only way for a novice motorcyclist to reduce the mandatory minimum time at the restricted licence phase.

How will these changes improve the current testing regime?

The approved advanced driving courses are classroom-based and few motorcycle-specific skills are taught. Removing this option will leave the new CBTA option as the only way to gain a time reduction. This will encourage novice motorcyclists to take a course which better teaches them motorcycle-specific skills and attitudes.

The CBTA will be an alternative to the standard testing regime. Successful completion of CBTA in the learner stage will remove the requirement to have to sit the motorcycle-restricted licence test to enter the restricted licence stage. Successful completion of an advanced CBTA will reduce the minimum time required to be spent on a restricted licence from 18 months to 12 months and will remove the requirement to have to sit the full motorcycle licence test to progress to a full motorcycle licence.

If motorcyclists choose not to complete the CBTA, they will still be able to progress through the motorcycle GDLS system by passing tests. The restricted and full licence tests will be strengthened, to encourage novice motorcyclists to gain more experience before they try to progress to the next stage of licence.

Why isn't motorcycle training compulsory?

The basic handling skills test at the entry point of the motorcycle GDLS is compulsory. CBTA will be offered as an alternative to progressing through the motorcycle GDLS through assessments offering faster progression with the support of training. It will be a voluntary option meaning riders will be willing participants in the programme and, therefore, get more value from it.

2. Introduction of a power-to-weight limit for learner and restricted riders

What restrictions are there on the types of motorcycles that novice riders can ride, and why?

Currently, holders of learner and restricted motorcycle licences are restricted to riding motorcycles of 250cc and less. However, advances in technology are limiting the effectiveness of the restriction. A number of powerful high-performance 250cc motorcycles capable of high speeds and rapid acceleration are available on the market. These motorcycles are not suitable for novice riders due to their power, riding position and handling. Advances in motorcycle power are likely to continue.

Most Australian states have recognised the 250cc novice rider restriction as a safety issue and have replaced this with the proposed power-to-weight/cc restriction through the introduction of a Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme (LAMS). This has included a list of motorcycles that are LAMS-compliant, which has been researched thoroughly. LAMS has proved popular with the Australian motorcycling community, and could readily be adapted for use in New Zealand.

What is the power-to-weight ratio for learner and restricted riders?

Novice riders will be prohibited from riding the following:

  • a motorcycle over 660 cc;
  • a motorcycle with an engine capacity of between 251cc and 660 cc and a power-to-weight ratio of less than 150 kilowatts per tonne, unless the motorcycle is approved by notice on the NZTA's website;
  • a motorcycle with an engine capacity of between 251cc and 660 cc and a power-to-weight ratio of more than 150 kilowatts per tonne;
  • a motorcycle with an engine capacity of 250 cc or less, if prohibited by the NZTA by notice on the NZTA's website.

This means novice riders will be entitled to ride the following:

  • a motorcycle with an engine capacity of between 251 cc and 660 cc and a power-to-weight ratio of less than 150 kilowatts per tonne, only if the motorcycle is approved by notice on the NZTA's website;
  • a motorcycle with an engine capacity of 250 cc or less, unless prohibited by notice on the NZTA's website.

Why is power-to-weight a good idea?

A power-to-weight ratio provides a better indication of a motorcycle's potential performance than engine capacity alone. The new restriction will give novice riders access to a greater range of motorcycles appropriate for their level of experience, including more that have safety features like automatic braking systems.

LAMS will come into force on 1 October 2012. This will allow time to develop the assessments and make the necessary changes to the IT systems, and ensure that all the changes to the motorcycle licensing and testing regime come into force as a single package.

How will people know whether a motorcycle is LAMS-compliant?

The amended Driver Licensing Rule will contain a definition of 'approved motorcycle' for novice riders. The NZTA will also publish on its website a list of LAMS-compliant motorcycles closer to the time that the LAMS comes into force. This is in line with the current successful practice in Victoria.

In addition, a LAMS-compliant motorcycle will have an identifier on the vehicle licence label. Therefore, it will be obvious when purchasing a new or used motorcycle whether that vehicle is LAMS-compliant or not.

Won't this reduce the number of motorcycles available?

No. It will increase the range of motorcycles available to novice riders, and the motorcycles available will be more appropriate for the novice rider's level of skill. Due to the greater range of motorcycles available to novice riders, they will be less likely to have to upgrade to a larger motorcycle once they have progressed to a full motorcycle licence.

What about people who are part way through the GDLS, and their 250cc motorcycle isn't a LAMS-compliant motorcycle?

The NZTA will have an exemption process available to assist novice riders who are caught out by the law change.

This means if the person has a 250cc motorcycle, and the NZTA then prohibits that motorcycle, the NZTA can grant that person an exemption to continue riding that prohibited motorcycle while they progress through the GDLS to their full licence.

What other restrictions will be placed on novice motorcycle riders?

Currently, learner and restricted motorcycle riders are allowed to tow a trailer on their motorcycle. This is not considered a safe practice for novice riders. Although this is not a significant issue at present, the introduction of LAMS will result in a wider range of motorcycles considered acceptable for novice riders, and may increase the instances of this occurring. In line with other licence conditions for novice riders and drivers, a restriction on towing is considered appropriate.

3. Introduction of the same minimum requirements for all novice motorcycle riders at restricted licence stage

What is new for novice motorcycle riders at restricted licence stage?

The amendment Rule removes the age-based difference in minimum time requirements for restricted motorcyclists. Currently restricted riders under the age of 25 years must hold their restricted licence for at least 18 months, while restricted riders aged 25 years or over must hold their restricted licence for at least six months before applying for a full licence. The change will mean that all restricted licence holders, regardless of age, will be subject to the same minimum time requirement. This will be set at 18 months, and reduced to 12 months on satisfactory completion of CBTA.

This provision will come into force on 1 October 2012. This will allow time to make the necessary changes to the IT systems and ensure that all the changes to the motorcycle licensing and testing regime come into force as a single package.

Why has there been an age-based difference in the motorcycle GDLS?

This distinction between older and younger novice motorcyclists was set when motorcycles were a common and cheap form of transport for young people. As a result, young riders featured significantly in crash statistics and it was considered beneficial to require these riders to spend a longer period of time in the lower risk riding environment provided by the restricted licence conditions.

Why is this changing?

The distinction between novice riders on the basis of age is outdated and no longer relevant. The use of motorcycles has changed over the last 20 years, and they are increasingly used recreationally by a much wider range of people.

The age profile of novice motorcyclists has changed, with the average age of a restricted motorcycle applicant now 32.5 years old. The number of 15-19 year old motorcyclists killed and injured each year is now about 12 percent of what it was in the early 1980s, while the number of motorcyclists aged over 25 years involved in crashes has increased. The average age of a motorcycle casualty is 35 years old (up from 22 years in 1980). Age-based distinctions in the motorcycle GDLS, therefore, are no longer appropriate.

The change aims to reduce the level of risk for these older novice motorcyclists, who will benefit from the additional time to gain experience.

4. Removing the 70 km/h speed limit restriction for learner riders

What is the change to the speed limit restriction for learner riders?

The amendment Rule removes the 70 km/h speed limit restriction that currently applies to learner motorcyclists.

This allows motorcyclists on a learner licence to travel at the same speed as the vehicles they share the road with. It will help novice riders get experience on the open road and practice for their restricted licence test.

What problems were posed by the 70 km/h hour speed limit?

Motorcycle riders are vulnerable road users. When riding at 70 km/h they can often be surrounded by larger vehicles that are travelling faster. This can force motorcycle riders into riding in a position on the road that presents a risk to their safety.

Road safety research has shown that a large difference in the speed of vehicles travelling on the open road creates a road safety problem. Best practice in speed management is for vehicles in high speed zones to be travelling at similar speeds.

This will also mean that learner motorcycle riders will be able to get experience riding at over 70km/h. At present, the first time they are legally able to travel at this speed is during their restricted licence test.

Driver licensing

5. Licence card appearance

Why are changes being made on the placement of details on a driver licence?

The Driver Licensing Rule currently specifies what items should appear on the front or back of a driver licence card. Given that there is limited available space on a licence card, its readability, particularly by Police at the roadside, will be improved if only essential information is required to be placed on the front of the card. The change specifies that the photograph of the licence holder, name, date of birth, driver licence number, expiry date, and licence status (eg 'LEARNER' or 'RESTRICTED') must remain on the front of the card. Non-essential information (eg donor status) can now be displayed on the front or the back of the card at the NZTA's discretion.

6. Ability to introduce changing security technologies

What changes have been made to allow the NZTA to take advantage of changing fraud prevention technologies?

The NZTA now has the ability to introduce additional security features on driver licence cards. This could include modern anti-counterfeiting techniques such as anti-copying inks (the colour changes when photocopied), anti-copying features that distort the font lines when photocopied, or optically-variable ink (the colour changes depending on the viewing angle).

This change allows the NZTA to consider a range of security measures in the future, but does not include adopting any specific measure at this time.

7. Use of temporary licences

What are the changes to the use of temporary driver licences?

Temporary driver licences, valid for 21 days, are issued to allow a licence holder to legally drive while waiting for their photographic licence to be produced and delivered.

The amendment means temporary driver licences are no longer accepted as identification (unless accompanied by an acceptable form of photographic identification) for:

  • sitting driver licensing tests
  • renewing and replacing driver licences.

Why shouldn't a temporary licence be acceptable as a form of identification?

Temporary licences are paper licences with hand-written details, and without a photo. They lack the security features of a photo driver licence. This means they can be easily tampered with and altered. This amendment also means that, because photographic identification must be presented when sitting a practical driving test, it would no longer be possible to use only the temporary licence as evidence of identity.

8. Evidence of identity

What are the changes for licence applicants who have changed their name?

The amendment means the NZTA (rather than a licensing agent) can now determine whether other comparable documentation is acceptable where a person wishes to change the name on their driver licence, if they are using non-standard documentation as proof of their name change. The change helps to safeguard against identity fraud.

What documents are agents now able to accept?

Agents are still able to accept standard/legislated name change documentation eg marriage certificates, deed poll certificates and statutory declarations.

The amendment means that they can also accept name change certificates issued by the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages verifying that the applicant's name change has been registered.

9. Photographic likeness of licence holders

What are the changes to the driver licence photo requirements?

The amendment clarifies that a photo taken for a driver licence must be a good likeness of the applicant. This does not prevent someone from wearing an item for religious or medical reasons. Rather, it will clarify that where such an item is worn, that item must not obscure the face or prevent the photo from being a true likeness.

Why did the Rule need to be changed?

This change aligns driver licensing requirements with the photo standards used by the Department of Internal Affairs for New Zealand travel documents (eg passports) and applications for citizenship which came into effect on 1 June 2005. This means the photos of licence applicants will be more consistent with other forms of photographic identification, and more accurate for enforcement and identity security purposes, particularly by the Police at the roadside.

How does this affect people who wear head coverings for religious reasons?

Head-coverings can be worn but the applicant's face must remain clearly visible. Agents are sensitive to religious needs. Current practice allows photographs to be taken by a female agent (if appropriate) or outside normal business hours. These options will be retained.

10. Extension of expiry of existing licence when adding new licence classes

What is the problem with expiry dates when adding a new licence class?

Currently, the Driver Licensing Rule specifies that if a person obtains a new licence class or endorsement, the new licence card is issued with the same expiry date as the original card. For example, if the original licence card was due to expire in four years' time, a person can only be issued with a four-year licence when they gain a new licence class or endorsement.

If a person wanted a 10-year licence, they would have to forgo the remaining time on the licence and also pay for a renewal. This is because the process to add a new class/endorsement is separate and different to the process to renew the existing classes.

How do the changes address licence expiry dates?

The amendment will allow that existing licence class(es) to be renewed when a new licence class/endorsement is obtained. It will allow a person with an existing licence, and who obtains an additional class or endorsement, to have that licence renewed, provided that all requirements relating to the renewal of the existing licence class(es) are also met at the same time.

When will this change be made and when will it apply?

This provision will come into force on 1 October 2012. This will allow the required changes to be made to the IT system to support the change.

Will there be situations where the automatic renewal of existing classes won't happen?

There will be some cases where the requirements of the new licence class are less than existing classes, and in these situations the existing classes will not be renewed automatically.

For example, when a person holds heavy vehicle licence classes (Classes 2-5), and obtains a motorcycle licence. Renewing a heavy vehicle licence requires the applicant to provide a medical certificate, while gaining a motorcycle licence does not. Therefore, in this case, the existing licence classes would not be automatically renewed.

Also, the amendment will not allow an existing licence to be renewed for 10 years, where a person obtains a special-type vehicle ('F', 'R', 'T', 'W') endorsement, a dangerous goods ('D') endorsement, a driving instructor ('I') endorsement, or a testing officer ('O') endorsement. This is because the minimum requirements of these endorsement applications would not have met a mandatory requirement for renewing a licence, namely that a new photograph must be taken. (A photograph is not required when obtaining any of these endorsements).

To allow all F, R, T, W, D, I, and O applicants to automatically be issued a 10-year licence would require that these applicants be photographed at the time of application. As this would impose greater costs on the NZTA, with implications on fee increases, and yet not benefit all applicants (namely those with classes 2-5 who require a medical certificate), this option was not considered appropriate.

Young and novice drivers

11. Supervisor of a learner driver

What changes will affect supervisors of learner drivers?

At present a supervisor must hold a full licence, and have held it for over two years. The amendment Rule extends the definition of supervisor: The supervisor of a learner driver must hold a full New Zealand licence, and have held:

  • their full New Zealand licence for at least two years, or
  • an equivalent overseas licence for at least two years.

Why was this change made?

This change aims to widen the group of people entitled to supervise a learner driver to include those who have recently obtained a full New Zealand licence, but have held an equivalent overseas full licence for at least two years. This will allow recent migrants who are experienced drivers (and who have obtained a full New Zealand licence) to supervise their children's driving.

12. Approved courses for learner drivers

What changes have been made for learner drivers and approved courses?

The amendment Rule allows learner drivers to take approved courses. If approved courses are undertaken during this stage, learners will be able to develop the key skills required for solo driving before they start doing so.

This provision will come into force on 1 October 2012. This will allow time for courses to be developed and for the required changes to be made to the IT system.

What are the current approved courses for the restricted licence stage?

There are two approved courses:

  1. Street Talk
  2. Defensive Driving

These particular courses teach advanced driving skills and as such may not be appropriate for learner drivers. These courses are currently being reviewed with the course providers.

13. Holders of restricted licences carrying parents as passengers

What are the changes that will affect restricted licence holders?

The amendment Rule allows holders of a restricted licence to carry their parents or guardians (licensed or unlicensed) as passengers.

Previously, restricted licence holders had to be accompanied by a licensed supervisor in some instances (eg when carrying passengers). They could carry certain passengers without a supervisor, providing the passenger was a 'dependant'. Parents were only defined as 'dependant' if they received a social security benefit. So parents who were unable to be a supervisor (ie, unlicensed), and not considered under the Driver Licensing Rule to be a dependant, could not be driven by their child who was a restricted licence holder.

The amendment allows an extension to the passenger carriage provision to include all parents. This means that a working parent who does not qualify as a supervisor can be carried by their children who hold a restricted licence. This change will also have mobility benefits for parents who are unable to drive (for example, with impaired vision).

Won't this increase the road crash risk of restricted drivers?

No. Evidence suggests that for novice drivers, having their social peers in the vehicle creates the greatest risk, rather than their parents or guardians.

Drivers from overseas

14. Licence conversion and applicants for a P (passenger) endorsement

How does the amendment Rule impact upon licence holders applying for licence endorsements?

The amendment Rule clarifies the requirements for licence holders applying for licence endorsements. Applicants must have held a full New Zealand licence for at least two years before applying for a P (Passenger), V (Vehicle Recovery), I (Driving Instructor) or O (Testing Officer) endorsement. Previously, the Driver Licensing Rule didn't state that this needed to be a New Zealand licence.

Why was this changed?

This change allows the Police to vet an applicant's criminal and traffic conviction history in New Zealand when carrying out a fit and proper person check. This provides a more accurate assessment of their fitness to hold such an endorsement, as they will have had a history of driving in New Zealand. It will continue to be possible for applicants who have not held a New Zealand full licence for at least two years to apply to the NZTA for an exemption, granted on a case-by-case basis.

Won't this disadvantage people who haven't been in New Zealand for two years?

Applicants who have not held the New Zealand full licence for two years (such as people converting from an overseas licence) will continue to be able to apply to the NZTA for an exemption from this requirement in certain circumstances (they may be required to provide an equivalent traffic history from another country to support their application).

What endorsements are not included in this change?

This change will not affect persons applying for D (Dangerous Goods), F (Forklift), R (Rollers), T (Tracks) or W (Wheels) endorsements as these endorsements do not require the holder to be subject to the fit and proper person checks.

15. International driving permits

How does the amendment Rule impact overseas visitors who wish to drive in New Zealand?

Visitors to New Zealand who drive using an International Driving Permit (IDP) must carry the original licence on which that IDP is based.

IDPs are in a paper booklet format and are relatively easy to forge. By requiring an overseas driver to carry both an IDP and the original licence on which that IDP is based, Police at the roadside can have more confidence that the IDP was gained legitimately and that the person is appropriately licensed.

This requirement will align New Zealand with international practice, and will improve licence and identity security.

16. Surrender of overseas licence

What does this mean for overseas applicants converting to a New Zealand licence?

Overseas applicants converting to a New Zealand licence will, under certain circumstances, now need to surrender their original licence. This will only apply when New Zealand and an overseas licensing jurisdiction have negotiated an arrangement that specifies that the other licensing jurisdiction requires the original licences to be surrendered and returned.

17. Drivers with an expired New Zealand licence and a current overseas licence

What changes are coming into force?

A change has been made as a point of clarification.

In line with New Zealand's international obligations, a driver who holds a current and valid overseas licence is entitled to drive in New Zealand for up to 12 months.

This amendment clarifies that holders of an expired New Zealand licence are be able to drive in New Zealand using their current overseas licence when visiting New Zealand, without having to renew their New Zealand licence.

General licensing

18. Suspension of course provider's operations

What has changed in regards to the NZTA's powers relating to driver licensing course providers?

Under the amendment Rule, the NZTA is now able to (temporarily) suspend all, or a deficient part, of an approved course provider's operations when good reasons exist for doing so. This more flexible approach deals with deficiencies that may arise in the delivery of a course (for example, non-compliance with legislation) by providing for all or part of the provider's operations to be suspended while a problem is addressed. The change allows the NZTA to assist course providers to comply with relevant legislation and their agreed obligations, rather than simply permanently revoking all approvals.

When would the NZTA suspend, rather than revoke a course provider's operations?

When there are concerns with one aspect of the course provider's operation but not other aspects. For example, if there are issues with the quality of the provider's training in one particular class of licence, suspension of the entire business is not necessarily appropriate when the other training is adequate.

How long will a suspension be for?

As long as is appropriate. The length of suspension would be tied to the actions required to rectify the problem identified. So it will be for as long as it would take the provider to rectify the issue.

Can the course provider challenge a suspension?

Course providers are able to appeal a suspension. This is in line with the Auditor-General's 2005 recommendation³ that there be more flexible powers for dealing with course providers who commit fraud or who otherwise appear to be incompetent in some aspect(s) of course delivery.

³Report of the Office of the Auditor-General on the Effectiveness of controls over the taxi industry. Wellington, 2005.

19. Extension of weight limits for Class 1

What changes are there to the vehicle weight limits allowed by the holder of a Class 1 (full) licence?

The amendment allows Class 1 full licence holders to drive rigid vehicles with a gross laden weight (GLW) of up to 6,000kg and combination vehicles with a gross combined weight (GCW) of up to 6,000kg.

This provision will come into force on 1 April 2012. This will allow time for affected course providers to facilitate the transition to different vehicles.

Is there a road safety risk if a person on a Class 1 licence is driving a bigger vehicle?

As a general rule, towing is safer with a heavier towing vehicle. With modern vehicle technology, heavier towing vehicles are now much easier to drive, and handle much more like their smaller equivalent. Increasing the GCW limit for holders of a Class 1 full licence to 6,000kg will allow and encourage the use of more suitable towing vehicles, without the fear of exceeding the legal weight limit.

What about learner and restricted drivers?

To ensure novice drivers are not able to drive vehicles which may be too large for them to safely handle, the amendment only applies to holders of a full licence. The existing limits for Class 1 learner and restricted licence holders continue to apply.

To ensure learner drivers are aware of the appropriate towing limits, the Class 1 theory test examines an applicant's knowledge of safe towing practices. The Official New Zealand Road Code also includes this information.

What impact will this proposal have on Class 2 weight limits?

The amendment Rule includes a clarification that the minimum weight limit for a Class 2 will be 6,000kg.

Some providers of courses who teach Class 2 skills (for the purpose of gaining a Class 2 licence) use vehicles at the lower end of the current allowable weight range. As the weight ranges have changed, vehicles with a gross laden or gross combined weight of between 4,501kg and 6,000kg are now classified as vehicles requiring a Class 1 licence, rather than a Class 2 licence, and therefore are not able to be used for courses relating to the Class 2 licence.

The NZTA will contact Class 2 course providers to discuss this issue with them, and to ascertain the number of vehicles affected. The NZTA understands that a number of course providers lease vehicles, rather than purchase them, which may facilitate an easier transition to the new weight limits. This proposal will not affect driver testing officers.

The amendment has a delayed in-force date of six months after the amendment Rule is signed, to facilitate the transition to different vehicles by affected course providers.

Commercial drivers

20. Fast-tracking employees to higher licence classes

In what circumstances are drivers able to be 'fast-tracked' from a Class 2 to a Class 4 or 5 licence?

The amendment allows drivers who are in an employment relationship (such as an apprenticeship) with an approved employer, and who have met agreed requirements, to progress from a Class 2 licence (to drive a medium rigid vehicle) to a Class 4 (heavy rigid vehicle) or a Class 5 licence (to drive a heavy combination vehicle) on the basis of supervised training and driving under restrictions that limit their safety risk. This can be done without the need to comply with the minimum time requirements and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

This reduces the time and cost of moving professional drivers from a Class 2 to a full Class 4 or a full Class 5 licence for drivers and their employer who are both approved to take part in the process. This fast-tracking process is already underway in certain parts of the industry as a result of a pilot programme. The change formalises this process.

This provision will come into on 1 October 2012 to allow required changes to be made to the IT system.

Who can apply to participate?

Operators who employ people in transport service and meet the appropriate criteria can register to be an approved employer with the NZTA. Drivers can participate if they are employed by an approved employer.

Are there any special criteria?

Participation in the scheme will be based on the NZTA being satisfied that the employer is safe and has the necessary systems in place to provide the required level of supervision and training to drivers. This will be applied on a case-by-case basis using the legislated criteria e.g. having an operator safety rating of four stars or more and a reporting and control system approved by the NZTA to ensure adequate supervision of the driver.

Does this mean that learner/inexperienced drivers will be driving heavy trucks on the road?

Yes, but only under supervision as part of a training programme to ensure they develop necessary skills.

In addition, the drivers who can participate in this process will already hold a full Class 1 licence, and a full Class 2 licence. They, therefore, already have experience driving cars and medium rigid vehicles.

What happens if a driver or employer breaks the rules?

Approval to participate in the scheme can be revoked. As participation in the scheme is in the employer's interest, this should provide incentive to comply with the requirements. If a driver breaches the conditions of their approval, they will receive the same penalty that any learner or restricted driver receives if they break the conditions of their licence – 35 demerit points and a $100 infringement fine.

What if a driver changes employment part way through the process?

If their new employer is an approved operator in the scheme, the driver will be able to transfer.

21. Teaching and assessing courses

What are the changes relating to courses for heavy vehicle, learner licence holders?

The change ensures course providers of approved courses, designed to waive the six-month minimum learner licence requirement for applicants of a Class 2, 3, 4 or 5 licence, teach and assess applicants, and allows the NZTA to approve these courses.

Why is this change needed?

The amendment allows the NZTA to set standards for course training content, including existing required levels of competency for assessing applicants.

Under the changes, what influence does the NZTA have over the teaching and assessing of applicants for full licence classes 2-5?

Under the changes, the NZTA can add a mandatory training content to approved courses, which will include the existing level of competency that has to be met by the applicant in order to gain the course certificate. This will ensure that all course providers offer a similar type of training, and will ensure that the training is up to standard. The NZTA will continue to set the standards for the courses, and audit the trainers and assessors.

Does this mean all course providers will need to change their courses?

The majority of course providers already provide training. The changes will mean that those who do not provide training must do so to the standards specified by the NZTA. Course providers may need to make changes to their existing courses; they will be given 12 months to do so. This provision will come into force on 1 October 2012.

22. General

What are the penalties for non-compliance with the amendment Rule?

The penalties for not complying with the driver licensing requirements are set out in the Land Transport Act 1998 and the Land Transport (Offences and Penalties) Regulations 1999.

How will the NZTA make sure people know about their responsibilities under the amendment Rule?

A newsletter will be sent to all those who have registered their interest in the Driver Licensing Rule about the signing and availability of the amendment Rule. In addition the NZTA will update relevant Factsheets and other information about the driver licensing requirements that is available on its website.

How can I obtain a copy of the amendment Rule?

A copy of the final amendment Rule will be available for purchase from selected bookshops that sell legislation or from Legislation Direct telephone (04) 568 0005. Final rules are available on our website(external link).

How can I obtain further information about the amendment Rule?

Further information about the amendment Rule may be obtained by emailing the NZTA Contact Centre or calling on Freephone 0800 822422.