The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is preparing to introduce the key provisions for improving young driver safety included in the Land Transport (Road Safety and Other Matters) Amendment Bill, passed by Parliament earlier today.
NZTA Chief Executive Geoff Dangerfield said young drivers were over-represented in crashes, and the changes introduced by the Bill would address the key factors which put them at increased risk.
“Too many of our young people are dying or being badly injured in crashes on our roads. Raising the minimum driving age to 16, bringing in a zero alcohol limit for drivers under 20 and allowing the NZTA to make the Restricted Licence practical test more difficult will all help to improve the poor safety record of young drivers in New Zealand.”
Mr Dangerfield said the changes were some of the first actions to be implemented as part of the Safer Journeys road safety strategy, which aims to improve all parts of the system over time: roads and roadsides, speeds, vehicles and people.
The minimum driving age will increase to 16 on August 1, 2011. An exemption application process will be available for those currently holding a Learner licence as at 1 August 2011 who, when they turn 16, wish to progress to a Restricted licence, if they meet certain conditions. The introduction of the zero alcohol limit for drivers under 20 will come into force 90 days after the Bill receives Royal Assent. (Note: This will come into force on 7 August 2011.)
To encourage 120 hours of supervised driving in the Learner licence stage, Restricted licence on-road driving tests will be made more difficult. Young drivers are most at risk when they first drive solo (without supervision). Supervised driving practice in the Learner licence phase reduces this risk by helping young drivers gain experience in common situations. Research suggests that crash rates among young drivers who have completed around 120 hours of supervised driving practice may be up to 40% lower than for young drivers who have completed around 50 hours once they start driving solo. The new tests are likely to be implemented in February 2012.