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Driving age to raise to 16-years

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Steven Joyce
Steven Joyce

By Kate Chapman of NZPA

Wellington, April 15 NZPA - The driving age looks certain to be raised to 16 years-old following Cabinet approval of the move.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce announced today Cabinet had approved the rise as a first step in implementing the Safer Journeys: New Zealand's Road Safety Strategy 2010-2020.

The move requires a law change and the Government was talking to its support partners, ACT and the Maori Party.

New Zealand had one of the lowest driving ages in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and raising the driving age supports a "lifetime of safe driving", Mr Joyce said.

Other planned changes include making the restricted licence test more difficult to encourage 120 hours of supervised driving practice, improving the quality and accessibility of road safety education for young people, allowing approved courses to be taken in the learner licence phase, and raising public awareness of the crash risk for young drivers.

The Government will also investigate having vehicle power restrictions for young drivers and tougher penalties for breaches of restricted licences.

A second package of initiatives to be released by Cabinet shortly will include plans to reduce the youth blood alcohol limit to zero.

Mr Joyce said young New Zealanders have a 60 percent higher fatality rate than in Australia and the Government looked at Australian measures.

New Zealand learner drivers do an average 50 hours of supervised practice. Research shows the crash risk is significantly lower for drivers who do 120 hours of supervised practice, Mr Joyce said.

The Automobile Association has said increasing the age was not going to make roads safer. The association supported enforcing 120 hours of supervised driving before a learner can drive alone.

Federated Farmers have said raising the driving age would affect farming families who had limited travel options.

In January, a survey of 2300 people reported 74 percent would like the driving age raised to at least 18, though when given the option, 20 was even more popular, with 80.5 percent opting for that.

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