This page has News and information about new legislation and road safety strategies, and planned legislation.

Recent news snippets

Here's a few news snippets which demonstrate some of the key points taught on the Defensive Driving Course.

Drugged drivers overtake drunk drivers

According to the AA, drug-impaired drivers are now involved in more fatal crashes on New Zealand roads than drunk-drivers. Last year 79 drivers who were involved in fatal crashes tested positive for drugs, compared to 70 who were above the legal limit or refused to be tested. In 2013, the number of drug-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes was just 14, compared with 53 who were intoxicated or avoided tests.

Drivers who had taken prescription medications above recommended levels, or those known to impair driving, were included in the figures. But the two most commonly-detected drugs (excluding alcohol) were cannabis and methamphetamine.

Participants on the Defensive Driving Course discusses this issue in depth and encourages students not to drive drugged!

Fatigued driver crashes

A tractor driver who was helping with harvesting operations was so tired after a 200 hour working fortnight he drove off the road to his death. The farm worker clocked up 197.25 hours in the two weeks leading up to the crash including a 16.75 hour day before leaving the farm, taking a tractor home in preparation for the next day's work. At 2.45am he crashed the tractor and died as a result of his injuries. The driver was also not wearing a seatbelt. A WorkSafe investigation found that fatigue was the most likely cause of the accident.

Turning down a ride home proves fatal

When someone offers you a ride home after a night out drinking, it's our advice to take it. Unfortunately a young apprentice plumber in Central Otago decided to go home in a vehicle driven by friends who had also been drinking. He never made it home and his family are devastated.

Distracted driver hits cyclists

A moment of inattention as he changed the radio in his truck was the reason a driver gave for not seeing two cyclists on the road near Twizel before he hit them, killing one and injuring the other. Paying attention to the road ahead and giving cyclists a wide safety cushion is crucial for everyone's safety.

Car explodes after crash

A police officer and member of the public freed a young man from a burning car shortly before it exploded following a crash into a paddock. The driver was lapsing in and out of consciousness and was badly injured. His rescuers were just metres away when the car exploded, flinging debris in all directions. We applaud the two heroes who saved the driver's life. Going in to help in this situation is risky, but luckily everyone made it out alive

Driving in school zones

A seven-year-old girl was killed after a collison with a truck while she was cycling home from school. Initial investigations show that the truck had been turning out of a street and the cyclist had been riding along the footpath when the accident happened. Taking care when driving in urban areas near school zones is very important.

Drugs and driving don't mix

A driver caused the death of another person in a crash when driving under the influence of drugs, and with children in the back seat. Driving while drugged means the probability of something happen increases, and the consequences can prove fatal.

Railway level crossings need caution

A driver was heading across the railway tracks which had compulsory stop signs, but no barriers when his ute and a train collided. The driver died. The train stopped about 400 metres down the track and the ute's engine was ripped away from the vehicle. Stop means STOP at a level crossing, and you should look both ways. Always assume there is a train coming!

"Sleep driving" no defence

Taking medication which causes drowsiness and alcohol together is a lethal combination for a driver. It may cause slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, staggering and memory loss for a driver involved in a crash as one driver in the United States was found. The defence of "sleep driving" was not upheld by the judge. Another well-known golf star also caused a crash while in a similar drugged state. If you're on prescription medication, check the package label carefully to see if it can cause drowsiness and whether you should consume alcohol at the same time. If you're not sure, err on the side of caution and don't drive.

Animals cause crashes

A vehicle in a rural area collided with a herd of loose cattle, leaving a number of cows injured. Luckily the driver was not hurt. In Australia, a woman was driving a four-door hatchback when she hit a wombat, the native Australian animal, lost control of the vehicle and collided with an oncoming utility. Another story involves a driver who overtook another car and hit a horse while moving back to their lane. The large black animal was in the middle of the road at night. The van drifted after the impact and rolled into a ditch. Our advice is to take special care in rural areas, and at dusk and dawn.

Alcohol stays in your blood for up to 24 hours

A driver caused a motorcyclist and pillion passenger to crash into his vehicle while performing a u-turn at 10 am one morning, resulting in considerable injuries as they were unable to avoid the turning vehicle. The driver was found to be still over the legal alcohol limit after drinking the previous night until midnight. He had to pay considerable reparation to the victims. This highlights the point that alcohol can remain in your blood system for up to 24 hours after consuming the last drink, even though you may feel okay.

Distracted driving on the rise

Drivers are being snapped holding takeaway coffee cups in their hands preventing them from using indicators and making unsafe lane changes. Driving while talking on cellphones is also a huge distraction. We believe you should have both hands on the wheel when driving, so put down your coffee cups and cellphones, and concentrate on the road ahead. Being caught with a phone in hand currently results in an $80 fine and 20 demerit points. Unsafe passing can incur a $150 fee or a fine of up to $1,000.

Pull over and stop

When a police officer signals you to pull over and stop, do it! There's plenty of stories of drivers fleeing the police and ending up causing a crash, sometimes with fatal consequences. Usually the reasons for taking off include being disqualified, drunk or being wanted by the police. You should always stop when signalled by the police as your safety and that of other drivers on the road is paramount.

Buckle up!

One of the major findings of a recent study is that people in rural areas, driving for work, tourists and the elderly are not buckling up. Over the last decade, on average 20% of vehicle occupants who died in crashes were not wearing seatbelts. Even though the seat belt was invented nearly 60 years ago, this surprising statistic shows that people still don't consider the seatbelt to be a lifesaving device. We do, and we urge all drivers and passengers to buckle up when in a moving vehicle - it's just plain commonsense.

NCEA credits for gaining drivers licence

The New Zealand Class 1 Driver Licence unit standards are now available to learners enrolled in a school or registered tertiary education organisation (TEO) which holds consent to assess for the 'Driver Licence Class 1' domain.

There are three standards:

See also these resources from the Driving Tests website which explains the credit system for parents and teachers.

Are you a distracted driver?

The NZTA's current driver distraction campaign currently focuses on young passengers that distract their drivers and drivers who use a mobile phone when driving. Have a look on the NZTA - Driver Distraction webpage.