Young Drivers

Starting Out

Before you even begin to learn to drive on the road, you'll need to get a learner licence.

Timeline

  • The minimum age to get a learner drivers licence is 16 years
  • In six months you can get a restricted licence
  • It will take 18 months to get a full licence (or if you do a defensive driving course this will be shortened to 12 months)
  • You must be 18 years of age to get a full licence.

Why have a learner licence?

Actually, this is the safest period for driving!

The reasons for this are:

  • There is an “L” plate displayed and this makes other drivers give you more space
  • As a driver you operate at a slower speed
  • You will have an experienced driver in the car with you, watching out for danger.


Want to be a good driver?

(Or a dodgy one no one wants to ride with...)

The learning stage is the time you set the foundation for your driving career so make sure it’s solid. Many people are not good with driving at all.

Good drivers can read the road and traffic conditions to take evasive actions when needed. On the other hand dodgy drivers drive like zombies, unaware of what’s happening around them. This makes them and other road users extremely vulnerable.

How can you improve your driving skills?

The first thing is to get a good driving instructor. A qualified driving instructor will help you instill good procedures and habits.

Drive under supervision as much as possible on different road types and under different conditions.

Research in Australia has shown that when learner drivers are subjected to 120 hours of supervised driving under different conditions, their crash rates drop by 40%.

A good start is for parents to sign up as a coach for their teenage learner driver on the www.practice.co.nz website.

Before you go for your restricted licence test, get a few more lessons with your driving instructor.

Restricted Stage

Restricted licence drivers are four times more likely to crash than learner drivers!

Why? Because you drive solo now – with nobody in the car to warn you about stuff. Again, if you had done the hard work earlier, you would be able to handle most common situations. Here, you also run the risk of picking up some bad habits – so be aware of that.


Choosing the right car

If you are only going to drive around in town, then buying a cheap car may be okay. However if you are planning to use that car on the open road – not a good idea! The cheapies don't necessarily have the protection you need when something goes wrong.

When buying a first car we may think that $1000 or $2000 extra is too much to spend on a car. In reality, a crash may result in tens of thousands of dollars damage, so the extra spent on a safer vehicle is insignificant.

If you are saving money to buy a car, you could ask your parents for financial assistance to get one which has better safety ratings.

Rather than look for a powerful supercar with mag wheels and other extras, go for a base model with the most safety features. The extras could be added later. Visit www.rightcar.govt.nz to see what models are safer than others