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NZTA rejigs rules to keep people moving

Temporary extensions to the validity of WOFs, COFs, regos and driver’s licences are being granted to help motorists get through the lockdown period.
Posted on 09 April, 2020
 NZTA rejigs rules to keep people moving

The NZTA says legislative changes to driver licensing and vehicle-certification requirements coming into effect on April 10 will help motorists and owners navigate through the Covid-19 lockdown period and beyond.

A series of changes to temporarily extend the validity of driver licences, endorsements, warrants of fitness (WOFs), certificates of fitness (COFs) and other certification documents during the shutdown has been announced by the government.

The changes provide a temporary extension to expired WOFs and COFs, driver licences and vehicle certifications issued under the Vehicle Standards Compliance Rule that expired on or after January 1. This is also the case with endorsements – including drivers of passenger services and dangerous good endorsements held by some truck drivers – that expired on or after March 1.

The legislative changes also provide a temporary suspension of the requirement to have a current and valid registration sticker if the vehicle rego expired on or January 1. Drivers are encouraged to licence vehicles online when possible. When you buy your next rego, it applies from the date your previous licence expired.

Kane Patena, the NZTA’s general manager of regulatory services, says the changes are aimed at easing the concerns of Kiwis who own or drive vehicles in a private or commercial capacity, or hold endorsements issued by the agency, by providing much-needed clarity during the lockdown period.

“Questions about the impact of expiring driver licences, WOFs and COFs have been front of mind for many owners and drivers since New Zealand entered alert level four on March 26.” He adds the agency has been working closely with Ministry of Transport to find solutions to allow people to continue to undertake essential travel safely without risking fines or prosecution. 

“Our goal is to ensure everyone who needs to travel to access essential services can do so, provided the vehicle they use is safe to drive on public roads,” says Patena. “People should not be afraid to undertake essential travel at this time solely because a document has expired which is unable to be renewed.”

Patena, pictured, adds that the temporary extensions introduced by the legislative change are intended to enable essential travel only, and do not remove the responsibility for drivers to ensure their vehicles are safe, or the need to comply with all other road rules.

“During the lockdown people should stay home and stay local. For those undertaking essential travel, the law already requires drivers to ensure vehicles are up to WOF or COF standard every time they are used on-road regardless of how recently the vehicle has passed inspection. It’s every driver’s responsibility to ensure their vehicle remains safe to operate during this extension period. Waka Kotahi has an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide for undertaking a basic self-inspection on our website, and we urge people to use it.”

The self-inspection guide using the so-called “twirl” procedure – short for tyres, windscreen, wipers and mirrors, indicators, rust and lights) can be found online here.

Patena says private motorists will also be allowed to have essential repairs undertaken, such as fixing punctured tyres or damaged windscreens, to keep vehicles safe and operational to access essential services. These services have been available for essential workers throughout the lockdown period.

He adds the NZTA is working with industry groups to manage the anticipated spike in demand for vehicle inspections and driver-licensing requests after the country moves out of level four and into recovery.

“We have been exploring a range of possible solutions with stakeholders across the sector to manage the anticipated demand as New Zealanders look to get their documents back up to date when the country moves out of level four. There are several options under consideration as it is still uncertain what recovery will look like. We are committed to keeping the public and industry groups informed as further information becomes available.”

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