Universal or more widely-available driving training in high schools would cost about $2500 per student but would likely save lives, a driver education network says.
Driving Change Network's national co-ordinator Wendy Robertson welcomed this week's $86.5 million Government driver licence support scheme but said more should be done for students.
"We would have liked it to be more proactive than reactive, and we think it should be in the school system."
The Government said the $86.5m spent over four years would improve access to testing by increasing training and the number of driver testing officers, and similar support.
"There is no shortage of demand when it comes to people who need support for getting their driving licence," Robertson said.
She said the $86.5m included investments for jobseekers and people in prison.
Starting good driver training in school could help young adults achieve full licences faster, she said.
"The data shows people who progress to full licences have fewer accidents."
Robertson said the $2,500 cost per student estimate was based on a professional instructor taking an inexperienced driver to full licence status.
She said it was unrealistic to expect the Government to fund all of that.
And she said in practice, parents who could afford professional driver training for their children should pay for it.
"Relying on parents to do 100 per cent of training, I don't think that's good from a road safety point of view."
Robertson's group is a driver education, training and licensing network of community, industry, Māori, Iwi and philanthropy sectors.
Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni said the Government was enabling her ministry and Waka Kotahi to work with schools to find the best direct paths for licencing and licencing support.
She said driver training and licencing had important consequences for employment, caregiving, and road safety.
Sepuloni said based on local demographics, different schools might have different driver training needs.
"We need to be very open to local solutions for those particular schools, and that's the plan," she said today.
National's transport spokesman Simeon Brown said the $86.5m announcement failed to address how waiting times for licence tests would be reduced.
"Labour will continue to use Covid as a scapegoat, even though waiting times to sit a driver licence have increased dramatically in 2019 and have only got worse since then."
National's social development spokeswoman Louise Upston said Labour failed to deliver a 2017 promise to provide five hours of professional driving lessons, defensive driving courses and free licence testing to senior high school students.