Novice drivers face tough rules in bid to cut road deaths

IRRESPONSIBLE learner drivers will be hit with double penalty points and may have speed limiting devices fitted to vehicles under tough new rules.

The aim of the Graduated Driving Licensing System is to cut killer behaviour and road deaths among young people.

The nine-point plan, unveiled by the Road Safety Authority (RSA), will see an overhaul of how learner drivers are tested, trained and licensed.

Novice motorists will have to take a minimum number of driving lessons before doing a test, the drink-driving limit will be slashed to almost zero tolerance and penalty points for young offenders will be upped.

Noel Brett of the RSA said the modern driving environment is demanding, with increased volumes of traffic, more complex road networks and faster vehicles. “It is essential that drivers are formally trained to drive safely for life rather than training just to pass a test. The facts are that young and inexperienced drivers are more likely to kill or be killed on Irish roads.”

A total of 143 people have died so far this year on Irish roads, including four teenagers killed in a Co Kerry crash last week.

Many of the changes will not kick in until late next year or 2012. These include:

- 12 hours minimum driving lessons before sitting a test. This will only apply to someone who obtains a learner permit on or after April 4 next year.

- Completing a “learner log”, signed off on by a parent orsupervising driver.

- Doing a computerised hazard test before getting a licence.

- Drink-driving limits for learners and those in their first two years on a full driving licence will be reduced to 20mg/100ml.

- Penalty points for specified offences will be increased so the threat of disqualification will impact on risk taking.

- A standard hazard perception test will be given to address risk taking and perceptions of risk.

- Displaying restricted ‘R’ plates for two years after getting a licence.

Learner and new fully licensed drivers will receive double penalty points for driving breaches such as speeding, overtaking and the use of mobile phones. Further planned changes include penalising irresponsible drivers by ordering them to re-sit tests.

Courts will also be able to order that offending drivers’ vehicles be fitted with speed-limit devices, alcohol-testing machines, or even tracking devices, the RSA said.

Learner drivers breaching road legislation will also face a driving curfew at night or restrictions on the number of passengers allowed in their vehicles.


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