Transport authorities are temporarily changing driver licensing rules to stop learner drivers from “clogging” available test slots after changes made last year made it easier for people to re-sit their exam.

Waiting times for driver licensing tests have skyrocketed to as much as three months in some places following last year’s removal of resit fees.

Waka Kotahi NZTA said the measure would help “manage demand and reduce wait times” after the October changes to remove retest fees “significantly increased the number of people sitting their learner’s licence test”.

The change announced today means a new 10-working-day stand-down period for learner drivers who fail their theory test twice on the same day.

NZTA land transport deputy director Neil Cook said the change “may encourage applicants who fail tests to better prepare for their next attempt”.

“The number of learner licence tests available on any day is determined by the number of computer terminals and staff available to supervise testing,” he said.

“Many people are currently failing a learner test then waiting for the next available slot, failing again, then using the next available slot, which clogs up the number of available tests at a site.”

Learner tests must be booked in person at AA and VTNZ sites.

The stand-down policy comes into effect on January 8, and applies to applicants trying to book more than two learner tests on the same day.

Cook said: “Some people are turning up to sit a learner test without having read and learned the road code.

“This impacts other learner licence applicants who must wait for a free slot. The 10-working days stand down will prevent applicants clogging up available testing slots.”

He continued: “Introducing a stand down period after two failed attempts on the same day means more testing slots will be available for others, and may encourage applicants who fail tests to better prepare for their next attempt.

“We’ll monitor the learner licence resit bookings closely, and will remove the stand down period when demand drops.”

The change to the all-in-one fee for each stage of a driver’s licence last year was designed to encourage people to enter and progress to a full driver’s licence.

As a result, demand for tests has increased significantly since.

To obtain a Class 1 learner licence to begin on-road training, an applicant must pass a theory test by correctly answering at least 32 of 35 randomly selected questions.