New drivers may face curfew in bid to cut road deaths
A curfew on newly qualified drivers is among a range of proposals being considered in an attempt to reduce the number of lives being lost on our roads.
The proposals were outlined by Environment Minister Edwin Poots as it was revealed that 115 people had died on Northern Ireland’s roads during 2009 — eight more than in the previous 12 months.
Other possible measures include minimum mandatory learning periods, limiting the number of passengers that novices can carry and changing the speed limit for new drivers.
In Northern Ireland drivers are restricted to 45mph during their first 12 months on the road.
But there are concerns that this limit prevents them being trained or getting experience of driving at higher speeds. Later this year the Department for the Environment will begin consultation on proposals to introduce a new system of GDL — graduated driver licensing — to replace the current ‘R’ driver scheme.
A DoE spokesman said: “Almost 40% of the fatal and serious collisions on our roads involve young drivers aged between 17 and 24, many of them in their first one or two years of driving.
“Evidence of graduated driver licensing systems in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand supports the view that limiting the risk exposure of new drivers while they gain additional experience can reduce the likelihood that they will be involved in a collision.”
He said Mr Poots wanted to introduce measures which would make “a real difference” to road safety.
“That is why, during 2010, we plan to consult on proposals on a wide range of GDL measures,” he added.
“These are likely to include removing the 45mph speed restriction on ‘L’ and ‘R’ drivers and replacing them with other post-test restrictions such as night curfews and passenger restrictions.
Mr Poots described the number of road deaths in 2009 as “disheartening” and said too many people were still dying needlessly.
Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland said each death represented untold heartache and devastation to many people. “The tragic reality is that the vast majority of road traffic collisions are preventable, so we make absolutely no apology for adopting a robust approach to enforcement.”
”The figures demonstrate why our road safety campaign is so important, why we target dangerous and inappropriate driving.
“We need public support to ensure we hammer home the road safety message and protect those most at risk, such as our young and inexperienced road users.”