Cabinet has approved a rise in the driving age from 15 to 16 as part of a package of actions aimed at improving the safety of young Kiwi drivers
Transport Minister Steven Joyce has announced the package as a first step in implementing Safer Journeys: New Zealand’s Road Safety Strategy 2010 – 2020.
Joyce says improving the safety of young people is a top road safety priority and the actions in the package are designed to work together to achieve this.
“It’s great to see these actions approved – they can make a real difference to the high level of road death and injury suffered by our young people.”
Other actions in the package are:
- make the restricted licence test more difficult to encourage 120 hours of supervised driving practice
- raise public awareness of young driver crash risk
- improve the road safety education available to young people and increase access to it
- investigate vehicle power restrictions for young drivers
- allow approved courses (Defensive Driving and Street Talk) to be undertaken in the learner licence phase
- investigate whether tougher penalties should be introduced for breaches of restricted licences.
A second package of initiatives, 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.
“Young Kiwis have a 60 percent higher fatality rate on the roads than young Australians. We have looked to what has worked in Australia in choosing to progress these measures.
“We have one of the lowest driving ages in the OCED. By raising this and ensuring our driver testing requires more practice before solo driving, we can ensure our young people have a safer start entering the road system, one that supports a lifetime of safe driving.”
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.