Changes include an increase in the minimum driving age to 16, introducing a zero blood alcohol limit for drivers under 20 (from 7 August) and strengthening the restricted license test to encourage more practice (in place February 2012).
Young drivers are disproportionately represented in fatal and serious crash statistics.
Young people (15-24 years) make up 14.6 percent of New Zealand’s population and 15% of all licensed drivers, but in 2010 they were involved in around 35% of all serious injury crashes. Crashes where young drivers were at fault resulted in 128 deaths and 697 serious injuries last year alone.
Transport Minister Steven Joyce says increasing the age to 16 strikes a balance between ensuring our young people have the maturity and the cognitive skills to get behind the wheel, and not unduly affecting their personal freedom.
From 1 August new minimum ages for obtaining restricted and full licences will also apply. An exemption application 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.
“While none of the new measures is a silver bullet on its own, together they will have a significant impact over time they will all help keep our most inexperienced drivers safer on the roads,” says Joyce.