Driving tests

What are the Statement of Approval Conditions for driver trainers?

In New Zealand, driver trainers and instructors play a pivotal role in ensuring that new drivers are well-prepared, both in terms of skills and knowledge, to safely navigate the roads. To maintain high standards of driver education, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has established a set of conditions known as the “Statement of Approval Conditions” (SOAC). These conditions outline the requirements and guidelines that driver trainers must adhere to when delivering driver licence courses. This document is crucial for maintaining quality and consistency in driver education across the country.

Overview of the Statement of Approval Conditions

The Statement of Approval Conditions ensures that all driving instructors deliver courses that meet specific educational and safety standards. The SOAC applies to various driver licence courses, including those for learner drivers, restricted and full licence applicants, motorcycle riders, and heavy vehicle operators. Key aspects of the SAC include:

  1. Instructor Qualifications: Instructors must hold appropriate qualifications and maintain current certification. They must demonstrate competence in both driving and teaching.
  2. Curriculum Standards: The curriculum must cover all necessary topics comprehensively. This includes things like road rules, hazard perception, defensive driving techniques, and practical driving skills.
  3. Assessment and Evaluation: Regular assessments are required to evaluate the progress of learners. Instructors must provide constructive feedback and additional training if needed.
  4. Record Keeping: Detailed records of each student’s progress, attendance, and assessment results must be maintained. These records ensure accountability and can be reviewed by NZTA if necessary.
  5. Facility and Equipment Standards: Training facilities and vehicles must meet specific safety and operational standards. Vehicles used for training should be well-maintained and equipped with necessary safety features.
  6. Ethical Conduct: Instructors must adhere to a code of conduct that promotes professionalism, fairness, and respect for all students.

Key Requirements for Driving Instructors

To comply with the SOAC, driving instructors need to be aware of several critical requirements:

  1. Certification and Licensing:
    • Instructors must obtain the necessary certification from NZTA, which involves undergoing training and passing exams to demonstrate their knowledge and skills.
    • Regular renewal of certification is mandatory, which may require ongoing professional development and reassessment.
  2. Curriculum Adherence:
    • The courses delivered must align with the nationally approved curriculum. This ensures consistency in the quality of education provided to all learner drivers.
    • Instructors should stay updated with any changes or updates to the curriculum and integrate these into their teaching.
  3. Student Assessment:
    • Continuous assessment of students is vital. Instructors must conduct both theoretical and practical assessments to gauge the learners’ understanding and driving abilities.
    • Constructive feedback should be given to help students improve. Instructors should identify areas where additional training is needed and provide targeted lessons.
  4. Record Maintenance:
    • Accurate and up-to-date records of student progress are crucial. These records should include details of each lesson, the skills covered, assessment results, and any feedback provided.
    • Records must be kept secure and confidential, only accessible to authorized personnel.
  5. Facility and Vehicle Standards:
    • Light training vehicles (cars) should be equipped with dual controls and meet all safety regulations; heavy vehicles are not required to have dual controls. Regular maintenance and safety checks are necessary to ensure the vehicles are in optimal condition.
    • Training facilities should provide a safe and conducive learning environment, with adequate space and resources for both theoretical and practical instruction.
  6. Professional Conduct:
    • Instructors are expected to exhibit high levels of professionalism. This includes punctuality, preparedness, and respectful interaction with students.
    • Ethical behaviour is paramount. Instructors should avoid any form of discrimination, harassment, or unfair treatment of students.

Courses Covered by the Statement of Approval Conditions

The SOAC applies to a range of driver licence courses in New Zealand, ensuring that all aspects of driver training are held to high standards. These courses include:

  1. Learner Driver Courses:
    • These courses are designed for individuals who are preparing to obtain their learner licence. The curriculum focuses on basic road rules, vehicle controls, and introductory driving skills.
  2. Restricted and Full Licence Courses:
    • For those progressing from a learner to a restricted licence, and eventually to a full licence, these courses provide advanced driving skills, hazard perception training, and defensive driving techniques.
  3. Motorcycle Licence Courses:
    • Specialised training for motorcycle riders, covering the unique skills and knowledge required to safely operate a motorcycle on New Zealand roads.
  4. Heavy Vehicle Licence Courses:
    • Training for individuals seeking to operate heavy vehicles such as trucks and buses. These courses cover specific regulations, handling techniques, and safety practices for heavy vehicles.
  5. Defensive Driving Courses:
    • These courses focus on teaching drivers how to anticipate and respond to potential hazards, promoting safer driving habits and reducing the likelihood of accidents.
  6. Specialist Courses:
    • Courses for handling specific driving scenarios, such as driving in adverse weather conditions, night driving, and navigating complex road networks.

Importance of Compliance

Compliance with the SOAC is not only a legal requirement but also essential for ensuring the safety and competence of new drivers. Driving instructors who adhere to these conditions contribute to a safer driving environment, reducing the risk of accidents and promoting responsible driving behaviour.

Non-compliance can lead to serious consequences, including the revocation of an instructor’s certification, legal penalties, and damage to professional reputation. Therefore, it is in the best interest of driving instructors to fully understand and comply with the SOAC.

Continuous Improvement

The field of driver education is dynamic, with continuous advancements in vehicle technology, road infrastructure, and educational methodologies. As such, the SOAC may be periodically updated to reflect these changes. Driving instructors must engage in ongoing professional development to stay abreast of new developments and ensure their teaching methods remain effective and relevant.


The New Zealand Statement of Approval Conditions sets the standard for driver trainers and the delivery of driver licence courses across the country. By understanding and adhering to these conditions, driving instructors can provide high-quality education that prepares new drivers to navigate the roads safely and responsibly. The SOAC ensures that all aspects of driver training, from curriculum content to professional conduct, meet rigorous standards, ultimately contributing to the overall safety and efficiency of New Zealand’s transportation system.

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Darren has written over 3000 articles about driving and vehicles, plus almost 500 vehicle reviews and numerous driving courses. Connect with him on LinkedIn by clicking the name above

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