Mayors team up with national groups to drive licence change

Published: September 2, 2019

News type: Local news   

A hui being held tomorrow will see the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs (MTFJ), local and central government, iwi, business, community and philanthropy groups explore how more people can gain the benefits of a driver licence.

As a nationwide network of New Zealand’s mayors, MTFJ is working together towards the vision of all young people aged under 25 being engaged in appropriate education, training, work or other positive activity in their communities.

The hui - Driving Change – will see MTFJ, the Todd Foundation, Waikato Tainui, Vodafone Foundation, Ara Taiohi, Downer Group, the Road Transport Forum, Philanthropy New Zealand and central government delegates share ideas that could be implemented to improve the graduated driver licencing system (GDLS).

“Having a driver licence is important for social and economic success.  A driver licence is more than a legal ticket to drive – it’s a must have for many jobs, as well as a formal means of identity,” says MTFJ Chair and Ōtorohanga District Mayor Max Baxter.

“There are a number of issues for people trying to get licences, including cost, accessibility and training, which is borne out in stats that show 70 to 90,000 young people face these major barriers to progressing to a full licence.”

MTFJ has long advocated for the importance of a free universal driver licencing programme for all secondary students after a remit was passed with overwhelming support at the 2017 LGNZ Conference, which was influenced by a successful high school driver licencing pilot programme launched in Central Hawkes Bay in 2016, led by Kelly Annand from Connecting for Youth Employment (CYE). 

“It’s clear that the interest and demand for systems change within the GDLS remains strong, which is evident by the groups, from every walk of life, participating at this hui,” says Mr Baxter.

“Improving the pathway to obtaining a driver licence is a key step in the journey towards reducing the 88,000 NEETs (youth not in employment, education or training).”

Geographical isolation is a major challenge for progressing more drivers through the system, as licencing providers are few and far between and without access to transport, access is an issue for many.  Those who are seeking a driver licence in Ōpōtiki now have to travel to Whakatāne to sit their licence, as there are no longer testing stations locally.

“Driving infringements are often the first contact that many people have with the criminal justice system, and MTFJ hopes a system that better incentivises driver licences will reduce this.”

“Youth are also overrepresented in crashes.  There’s no one solution to this and other issues, but we’re hoping with everyone pulling in the same direction that we can start developing solutions,” concluded Mr Baxter.

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