Revealed: Over 40,000 drivers remain on restricted and learner licences for a decade

Newshub can reveal more than 40,000 New Zealand drivers have remained on their restricted and learner licences for a decade - or longer.

The Associate Minister of Transport admits they're a risk to other drivers but she's waiting for a review of the system before she'll commit to any changes.

Kyle Simonsen wouldn't call himself a 'bad driver'. He just wouldn't say his driving is 'great' either.

"I wouldn't say I'm a particularly good driver no," the restricted licence driver says. "I've never really been tested with any, you know, stiff conditions."

But the 27-year-old has passed a few tests. He got his learner licence as soon as he could at 15 and passed his restricted months later.

It was only when he sat the test for his full licence that he hit a roadblock - the instructor failed him.

"It was just something like 'oh you're alright you just need a bit of practice so we're not quite there today', and then he got out," Simonsen says. "It was kind of like being broken up with."

Simonsen hasn't attempted his full licence since. He's now been on his restricted for 11 years.

This means he can only drive between 5am and 10pm and can only carry passengers if there's a full licence holder of at least two years in the car.

"Every friend I have has had their full for two years so it's not really an issue," Simonsen says.

He's is one of more than 20,000 New Zealand drivers who have held a restricted licence for ten years or longer. And the figure is almost the same for drivers who have stayed on their learner licence.

In total that's almost 46,000 drivers stuck in the system for more than a decade and the Associate Minister of Transport admits they're a risk to other drivers.

"We want safe, qualified drivers on our roads and we know that when people are able to progress all the way through to their full licence they're less likely to be involved in a serious injury crash," Julie Anne Genter says.

In 2014 the National Government put five-year 'time-limits' on learner and restricted licences. But last year the current Government realised people weren't complying and ordered a two-year extension while a review was done.

"Not everyone has someone to teach them to drive, or has access to a safe warranted vehicle," Genter says.

"Many people on low incomes won't have the money to pay for their practical test or the lessons they would need to pay for to pass it."

It costs just under $95 to get a learner licence, almost $135 for a restricted and nearly $110 for a full licence.

All up, that's around $300 but that doesn't include any extra fees to re-sit a test if you fail at any stage.

Last year, 43 percent of people who tried to get their restricted failed the test and 23 percent failed their full licence.

Driving instructor Harald Leeuwenburgh often sees drivers who've failed their tests several times.

"If they don't have anyone they can drive with or legally drive with sometimes they really struggle to clock up those hours," he says.

But for some young drivers like 17-year-old Leah Ford there have been plenty of opportunities to learn on quieter roads.

Leah, who's on a restricted licence, lives on a farm out of Ashburton and drives herself to boarding school in Timaru every week.

"My parents both work mainly full-time on the farm so they can't just drop everything to take me somewhere, so getting my licence meant I could just go when I wanted and not have to wait around," she says.

"They get lots of experience out in the paddock where it's safe right from the word go," adds parent Chris Ford.

Leah plans to sit her full licence as soon as she's eligible. As for Simonsen, he's finally planning to resit the test next month.