Law changes take positive steps for road safety

5 May 2011

Law changes take positive steps for road safety

The AA is pleased to see today’s introduction of several road safety laws that will save lives and make driving safer for everyone.

Parliament has passed legislation that includes several major changes for drivers:

  • The age someone can gain their learner licence has been raised from 15 to 16
  • There will be a zero alcohol limit for drivers under 20
  • The test to gain a restricted licence will be made harder
  • Alcohol interlocks will be able to be installed in the vehicles of repeat drink drivers
  • The maximum penalty for drink driving causing death has been doubled to 10 years in prison
  • Data will be collected on adult drivers (those over 20) with a blood alcohol level of between 0.05 and the current limit of 0.08.

The AA strongly supports the principle of improving the skills and safety of young drivers and is pleased about the change to a zero blood alcohol youth limit and a more demanding test to gauge whether someone is ready to drive unsupervised.

However, the AA is concerned that the period of time until a learner driver can graduate to a restricted licence has been left at six months.

“In terms of road safety, experience behind the wheel rather than the age at which you start is what really counts,” says AA General Manager Motoring Affairs Mike Noon.

“Supervised drivers on their learner licence are in fact the safest drivers on our roads. They are involved in very few accidents. Unfortunately, once someone starts driving solo on their restricted licence they become the drivers most likely to crash.”

The AA is urging parents of young drivers to keep them on their learner licence for longer than the minimum requirements.

“The best thing parents can do for their children when they are learning to drive is provide as much education, training and lessons as possible. The AA encourages parents to keep their children on their learner licence until they have completed 120 hours of supervised driving.”

Mr Noon says the zero blood alcohol limit for under 20-year-olds sends a clear message to young people to develop their driving skills and experience without the complication of alcohol.

“The previous system could lead to confusion and young drivers being caught out with a conviction after only a couple of drinks. It’s much easier to know you can’t drink anything before driving – end of story.”

The AA also supports the changes regarding drink drivers although it would have liked the installation of alcohol interlocks - which won’t allow a car to go if they detect alcohol – to be mandatory for repeat drink drivers. The AA also opposes offenders having their licence suspended for three months before an interlock is installed. International experience shows that immediately installing interlocks is more effective at keeping recidivist drink drivers off the road.

Data being collected on adult drivers (those over 20) with a blood alcohol level of between 0.05 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood and the current limit of 0.08 will allow more research to be done into the intoxication levels of drivers involved in crashes.

For more information contact

Mike Noon
General Manager Motoring Affairs
New Zealand Automobile Association
T. +64 9 931 9984
M.+64 021 659 704
E. [email protected]

The New Zealand Automobile Association is an incorporated society with over one million members. It represents the interests of road users who collectively pay over $2 billion in taxes each year through fuels excise, road user charges and GST.

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