New Northern Ireland law to improve standards for young drivers welcomed

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The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has hailed a new law passed in Northern Ireland that will help young drivers to be safer on the country’s roads.

The family safety charity has welcomed the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill, which will come into force in 2018 and includes tougher drink-drive limits, a minimum six-month learning period, night-time restrictions on young drivers carrying passengers, and will enable learners to drive on the motorway.

Young drivers are more likely to be involved in road accidents than experienced drivers, and yet they drive fewer miles.”

Kevin Clinton Head of road safety for RoSPA

It has long been recognised that alcohol impairs a driver’s ability and the bill will provide for two new lower drink-driving limits – 50mg/100ml for all drivers (as is the case now in Scotland) and 20mg/100ml for novice and professional drivers.

RoSPA has been calling for the introduction of measures across the UK to gradually introduce young people to the challenges of driving on today’s roads and help them to deal with the dangers.

Drivers aged between 17 and 25 account for about one in five road deaths (25 per cent) in Great Britain, while accounting for just 8 per cent per cent of licence holders – a statistic that needs addressing if the roads are to be made safer.

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety for RoSPA, said: “Young drivers are more likely to be involved in road accidents than experienced drivers, and yet they drive fewer miles.

“We commend the government in Northern Ireland for taking this important step in trying to save lives on the road, and we would like to see similar measures introduced across the UK. There is scope to reduce, significantly, the number of casualties caused by new and inexperienced drivers.”

Last year RoSPA, backed by an alliance of other influencers, charities and organisations, wrote to ministers to request a Green Paper on young drivers, which would include potentially life-saving options such as graduated driver licensing (a phased driving experience for young drivers), and telematics (or black box technology).

The charity believes the production of a robust consultation document would be a significant development in the drive to cut the number of crashes involving young drivers.