New bill proposed allowing restricted licence drivers behind wheel day or night

A Members' Bill in parliament is proposing drivers on their restricted license be allowed behind the wheel any time, day or night, if they need to travel between work and home.

Currently, it's illegal for restricted drivers to be behind the wheel between 10pm and 5am.

National MP Paul Goldsmith, who drafted the bill, described the issue as "annoying".

"When you're saying that it's okay to drive at 9.55pm but suddenly you turn into a menace to society at five past 10 when you're trying to get home from your shift at Domino's [Pizza] or whatever it is, then I think it makes it difficult for people to do simple things," Mr Goldsmith said.

It's already possible for restricted drivers to get an exemption to the rules.

Last year, more than 1500 people applied to extend their driving time or carry passengers.

Of that number, half were approved.

"Well yes, you can get an exemption but the NZTA website says it's only under very, very special circumstances," he said.

The Automobile Association (AA) says there are good reasons for the current curfew due to the increased risks posed to drivers at night.

"People under 25 - that's the highest age group for people dying on the roads so we want to make sure that people are as safe as possible. We also know that there are people who choose to break that curfew law," says AA Road Safety spokesperson Dylan Thomsen.

Mr Thomsen says the AA is looking forward to a government review of the current licensing system over the next year in order to get a complete picture of how people learn to drive and obtain a license in New Zealand, and ways it could be made safer while "fitting well with modern lives".

However, workers in the hospitality industry point out restricted drivers aren't all young people.

"The late shifts are really difficult for us to fill - as are many roles in hospitality - so the more people we can open it up to, I think the better for us and better for potential employees as well," says Hospitality NZ Wellington Branch President Matt McLaughlin.

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter says as with all Members' Bills, the proposed law change "would be considered on its merits if, and when, it's pulled from the ballot".

Road safety experts say the current curfew keeps the number of accidents down. Source: 1 NEWS