Drivers Licence Age Announcement Next Month


The government is expected to announce an increase in the drivers licence age in a few weeks and there’s speculation it will raised to a minimum of 17.

Changes for age or restrictions on older people driving are also on the cards.

The government will be releasing its roading safety strategy but will signal plans to introduce specific measures over the last two years of its present term.

The strategy follows the transport minister’s Safer Journeys document, which was open for public discussion and advocated a long term vision for road safety.

It proposed adopting a system wide approach to improving road safety, by moving beyond seeing road safety as a matter of ‘fixing the driver or user’ and instead focusing on improving all the parts of the road system that impact on safety (ie the road, the vehicle, the travel speed and the road user).

The government has been especially interested in measures taken in Australian states.

United Future MP Peter Dunne has already introduced his own  bill to raise the age to 16 and to extend the learner licence period from six months to 12 months but the government has not taken a stand on it.

Other important decisions being considered include suggestions to:

  • reduce the legal blood alcohol limit from 80mg per 100ml to 50mg per 100ml, or alternatively leave the limit at 80mg and increase the penalties.
  • introduce a zero blood alcohol limit for those under 20 years of age and recidivist offenders
  • provide more speed cameras
  • impose tougher penalties on speeding
  • allow more varied speed zones on high risk rural roads, as well as lower speed limits in urban areas
  • change the right hand rule so that cars turning right give way to traffic turning left into the same road

The transport minister today gave no hint of his decisions but said that the strategy will set out some immediate actions aimed at reducing the number of deaths and injuries on our roads.

He said the just completed last year road toll figures were encouraging, especially the drop since measures such as mobile phone use were introduced towards the end of the year.

The 2009 preliminary road toll of 384 compares to 365 deaths in 2008 and 421 in 2007. The number was trending towards more than 400 for the year, until October, November and December all recorded the lowest number of deaths since monthly records began in 1965.

But there were still too many people being seriously hurt, he said.

In the 12 months from 1 July 2008 to June 30 2009 police reported just over 2500 people seriously injured as a results of road crashes.

NZTA says the next few days are traditionally the days of the heaviest traffic on the roads.

A traffic count taken on SH1 just south of the town on  2 January last year showed that traffic volumes were 52 percent higher than average. Traditionally, there are heavy volumes of traffic on SH1 heading into Auckland from the north and south, SH1 and SH2 in Waikato, and SH1 south into Wellington.





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