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April 19, 2010 | by  | in News |
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Driving age driven up

Joyce drives 15-year-olds off the road

Cabinet has confirmed the driving age will rise from 15 to 16, making life harder for country kids and clearing the way for legislation to pass before the end of the year.

Last week Minister of Transport Steven Joyce said cabinet had approved a package of changes that will affect young drivers.

Besides increasing the driving age, the changes will also make the restricted licence test harder, set up investigation of vehicle power restrictions for young drivers and allow defensive driving courses to be done in the learner licence phase.

There will also be an investigation in to tougher penalties for drivers who breach the rules of a restricted licence.

Joyce has announced the package as a first step in implementing Safer Journeys: New Zealand’s Road Safety Strategy 2010 – 2020.

A second package of changes focused on the impact of alcohol on our roads will be discussed by cabinet shortly. This will include an action to reduce the youth blood alcohol limit to zero.

Nick Foster, a 15-year-old who has started studying for his learner’s licence, says the changes are “absolutely crap”.

Foster will be making sure he sits his learner’s test before the changes come in.

He does not believe the changes will alter the accident statistics for young people.

“It will only make them better drivers in the future because they have had more experience. People are always going to be stupid though.”

New Zealand learner drivers currently do around 50 hours of supervised practice on average. Research shows the crash risk is significantly lower for drivers who do 120 hours of supervised practice.

Joyce says legislation to support changes in the package could be in place by the end of the year. New Zealanders will have a chance to have a further say on the changes as part of the Select Committee process.

Fact sheets on young driver safety and questions and answers about the actions in the package are available at www.saferjourneys.govt.nz.

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