Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Young drivers may be banned from carrying friends

Environment Minister Edwin Poots is considering banning young drivers from taking a group of friends out for a spin.

The minister said he was looking at bringing in similar legislation to the Graduated Driving Scheme operating in the state of Victoria, Australia, which bars probationary (restricted) drivers from carrying more than one passenger aged between 16 and 21.

The minister said he was also considering other restrictions on young drivers including night curfews, passenger restrictions and compulsory learning periods in a forthcoming public consultation on plans to introduce a Graduated Driving Licence here.

“I am very concerned about the unacceptably high number of young and novice drivers involved in fatal and serious collisions on our roads each year,” Mr Poots said in response to a written question by UUP Upper Bann MLA Sam Gardiner.

“This is why I intend to consult shortly on Graduated Driver |Licensing (GDL) to reduce the |exposure of risk to all new drivers.

“Preparation of the GDL consultation paper has involved considering evidence of graduated driving licensing systems in various counties, including the State of Victoria in Australia.

“Research from Victoria highlights that 26% of first year probationary drivers involved in fatal crashed were carrying multiple passengers, but only 9% of their total driving is with multiple passengers. The risk of a probationary driver being involved in a fatal crash increases fourfold if the are carrying two or more passengers.”

Mr Gardiner said drivers aged between 17 and 24 years old account for around 11% of our licensed drivers, yet they were responsible for 38% of fatal collisions in recent years.

“It is quite clear that we need to tackle this problem because each young death leaves devastation in its wake with heartbroken parents, family and friends,” he said.

“I raised the restrictions placed on young drivers in the State of Victoria in Australia with the Environment Minister who is responsible for driving licences.

“I told him that in the State of Victoria probationary drivers are allowed to carry no more than one passenger aged between 16 and 21, excluding family members.

“The fatal accidents mostly occur when a car is full of young people with the young driver. The lesson is very clear.

“The minister told me that he is also considering other restrictions on young drivers. These include night time curfews, passenger restrictions and compulsory learning periods.”

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