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Northern Ireland's 'new driver' shake-up

Thursday 24th March 2011

Following the recent publication of ‘Northern Ireland’s Road Safety Strategy to 2020’, the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland has drafted a consultation paper on proposed changes to learner, restricted, and graduated drivers.

The department will be consulting on proposals to reform the ‘L’ and ‘R’ schemes in Northern Ireland, and on the introduction of a system of Graduated Driver Licensing. The consultation runs from 15 March to 19 July.

The paper, ‘Consultation on Proposed Changes to the Learner and Restricted Driver Schemes and on Graduated Driver Licensing’ includes a summary of Northern Ireland’s ‘new driver problem’, potential measures to reduce road related casualties, and consultation questions seeking feedback on the proposed measures.

The report claims that a combination of inexperience and youth lies at the heart of Northern Ireland’s new driver problem, and goes on to reveal that between 2004 and 2008 young drivers in NI were responsible for 135 fatal and 816 serious collisions on the roads.

In response to the figures the consultation suggests a series of measures which aim to reduce new driver related road casualties, including:

  • Raising the minimum licensing age.
  • Amending or removing speed limits for learner and restricted drivers.
  • Allowing learners to drive on motorways.
  • Introducing night-time and passenger restrictions for restricted drivers.
  • Increasing the duration of the restriction period.

To view the reports or to download the consultation response form, click here.

For more information contact Betty Holland on 028 9054 1165.

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I am currently learning to drive, and think it is very dangerous to keep the maximum speed limit for restricted drivers at 45. I believe it should be raised to 60 mph which will mean it would cause less problems on the roads especially on motorways.
Ben Wilson, craigavon

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