I have heard the argument many times. “Having a licence is a privilege, not a right”.

And I have the answer to that statement. Not having a driver licence has become major barrier for people seeking employment, with 70% of jobs requiring a Driver’s Licence – even when the job does not involve driving.

Some people only need to find the actual Learner Licence Fee, however for many in our community the average cost of gaining a learner licence is $231.35, if you take into account the cost of the road code book, purchasing a birth certificate because your family may not have a copy, and attending a theory preparation course if you require extra support to understand the road code (or English is your second language, you have a learning disability or you lack confidence).

Further to this, illegal driving is endemic and normalised in New Zealand irrespective of location,           socio-economic status and ethnic group, with 84% of young people reporting they breach the terms of their Learner or Restricted Licence.  70,000 – 90,000 young people face major barriers to obtaining a full licence, and for many this is due to the cost of preparing for, and sitting the licence tests.

Consider the barriers many people have to getting a Learner Licence

  • Do they understand the licensing process?
  • Can they read and speak English well?
  • Can they fill out the DL1 Application Form?
  • Do they have the required I.D.? (18+ card, birth certificate or passport) Owning a copy of your birth certificate often relies on whether your family has kept it safe throughout your childhood.  For many people, not having an original copy of their birth certificate is the first barrier to getting their licence. Cost: $26.50
  • Do they have proof of address? (Bank statement, utility bill or a letter from a government department)
  • Can they afford to pay $25.95 for a copy of the 2018 road code book? (It would be great to be able to trawl the second hand book stores, or borrow an old copy from friends, however the LTSA update the road code frequently, and previous editions are often unusable)
  • Do they have confidence in their ability to pass the test?
  • Do they have access to the internet to practice the LTSA online tests?
  • If they need support to pass the test can they afford to pay for a Learner Licence Theory Preparation course? WEST provide a six session course to support young people to pass the Learner Licence, from supporting them to understand the road code, to accompanying them to the testing venue, WEST are there to provide support throughout the process.
  • Can they afford the Learner Licence test fee? The cost of the licence test fee is often prohibitive for people who are ready to sit their test. And we already know that achieving a driver licence and moving through the licence stages benefits people through increased employment opportunities, reduction in infringement fines, and improved road safety. Cost: $93.90
  • Can they get to a testing station? At the conclusion of the course WEST take the group to the testing station and support them as they sit their test.
  • If they don’t get 33 of the 35 questions correct can they afford the re-sit fee? (No matter how prepared someone might be, nerves, reading the question wrong, or a blank moment can all mean someone doesn’t achieve 33 out of 35 questions correct. Failing a licence test often impacts negatively on a person’s confidence, but it also means the person has just lost $93.90 and to add salt to the wound, they need to find a further $45.70 re-sit fee). Cost: $45.70 each re-sit

WEST is in the business of supporting West Aucklanders to obtain their driver licence and improve their economic outcomes, whether it be through a WEST driver education preparation course, supporting someone to obtain their I.D online, help with filling out the application forms, the use of the WEST Computer Hub computers to practice online tests (WEST pay for the online driver licence practice test subscription to access these online tests), or support to pay for the test fee or road code book.

A driver licence isn’t just about being able to drive legally, it’s about improving access to employment, improving road safety, reducing personal and household debt through infringement fines, reducing the number of people who are affected by loss of licence through demerit points (which often directly affects a person’s ability to get to work and retain their employment) … the list goes on.

WEST regularly applies to philanthropic funders for funding to run free Driver Educaiton Programmes in West Auckland. If you or someone you know has had difficulty obtaining their licence and benefitted from support we would appreciate a support letter so that we can show funders the benefit of providing Driver Education support programmes to the community.