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Changes coming soon to improve the safety of young drivers

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The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is preparing to introduce new measures to improve young driver safety from next week. These new measures will support recent law changes, with the minimum driving age increasing to 16 on August 1 and a zero alcohol limit for teenage drivers coming into force a week later, on August 7.

NZTA Chief Executive Geoff Dangerfield said young drivers were over-represented in crashes and the changes would address key factors which put them at increased risk.

"Too many of our young people are dying or being badly injured in crashes on our roads. Road crashes are the single biggest killer of New Zealand teens, and we have the highest road death rate in the OECD for 15-17 year olds.

“That’s a situation no-one should accept - raising the minimum driving age to 16 and bringing in a zero alcohol limit for drivers under 20 will both help to improve the poor safety record of young drivers in New Zealand.”

Mr Dangerfield said the changes were two of the first actions to be implemented as part of the Government’s Safer Journeys strategy, which includes a range of actions aimed at improving road safety for young drivers.

The NZTA is also working on changes to toughen up the on-road Restricted licence driving test in order to encourage 120 hours of supervised driving in the Learner licence stage, with the new tests likely to be implemented in February 2012. Earlier this year the NZTA launched www.safeteendriver.co.nz(external link), a dedicated new website providing free advice and tools for the parents of teen drivers.

The minimum age for obtaining a Learner driver licence increases from 15 years to 16 years from Monday, August 1 2011. New minimum ages for obtaining Restricted and full licences will also apply. An exemption process is available for those currently holding a Learner licence as at 1 August 2011 who, when they turn 16, wish to progress to a Restricted licence, if they meet certain conditions.

Further details and Q&A’s on the change to the minimum driving age can be found at: www.nzta.govt.nz/licence/photo/gdls-changing.html

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