During the survey, interviewees aged 15 and over were asked to estimate the total distance they had driven in their driving lifetime. They were asked to describe their driving experience according to five broad categories: 'Never driven', 'Up to 2000 km', '2001-20,000 km', '20,001-200,000 km' and 'More than 200,000 km'. Those who were unable to estimate their lifetime driving experience were recorded as 'Not known'.
New Zealanders begin driving at a younger age than people in many other countries. About one-third of 15 year olds in the survey had some driving experience. By age 20, 90 percent had done some driving while 40 percent had driven more than 20,000 km.
Of those currently driving, 90 percent of 16 year olds and 70 percent of 19 year olds had driven less than 20,000 km. Inexperienced drivers are known to be at higher risk of crashing than other drivers, as they are less skilled at anticipating and negotiating hazardous situations*.
Women are more likely to be non-drivers, and to learn to drive later than men. Around 7 percent of women in their 30s and 40s have never driven, compared with only 1 percent of men in these age groups. Older women, in particular, are less likely to have learned to drive; one in five women over 65 has never driven. Overall, older women who do drive tend to have less lifetime driving experience than their male peers - and one in 20 has a low level of experience: that is, under 20,000km.
* The driving behaviour of novice drivers is discussed in Mayhew, D.R. and Simpson, H.M. (1990). New to the road. Young drivers and novice drivers: similar problems and solutions? Ottawa, Ontario: Traffic Injury Research Foundation of Canada.