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March 15, 2010 | by  | in News |
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Key sees me rollin’, he hatin’

News

Government to implement policy targeting younger drivers who are ridin’ dirty

No drinking for teen drivers and an extra year of asking parents for rides are some of the changes proposed by Transport Minister Steven Joyce’s new ten-year transport safety strategy.

Introduced by the government at the start of this month, Safer Journeys includes a number of changes to driver licensing, blood-alcohol limits and vehicle power restrictions for under-20s.

Under the plan, the age for getting a learner licence will be raised from 15 to 16, and the restricted licence test will be made more difficult, with 120 hours of supervised driving practice to be encouraged.

Drivers under 20 will also face a zero-alcohol limit, but the government is yet to decide on whether a lowered alcohol limit will be introduced for other drivers.

Joyce says that the plan, which also includes changes to give-way rules and possible changes to blood-alcohol limits for over-20s and repeat drink-drivers, comes in response to New Zealand’s ongoing high death toll.

“Safer Journeys is a step towards improving the safety of our roads.

“A disproportionate number of young New Zealanders die on our roads—young Kiwis have a 60 per cent higher fatality rate on the roads than young Australians.”

These changes are to go to Cabinet later this month, with a bill and in turn, legislation, anticipated for this year.

Also up for consideration is the possibility of limiting access to high-powered vehicles for young and learner drivers.

But while polls and editorial features on stuff.co.nz are largely in favour of the proposed limits to youth drivers, students spoken to by Salient had mixed views.

While some students felt that the changes were common sense and “should be the law anyway”, others believed that these limits were too harsh and would be likely to unfairly penalise young drivers.

In particular, the zero-alcohol limit was identified as an issue by one student.

“You’re either drinking or you’re not. The current alcohol limit is basically zero anyway, and most people know that, but this could get us into trouble for just having a sip.”

Although not yet confirmed by the government, restrictions on the power of vehicles were unanimously supported by students spoken to, as many identified this as an easy way to stop boy racers.

More information and the exact details of the proposed changes can be found at www.transport.govt.nz/saferjourneys.

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