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Tougher Penalties Focus Of Road Safety Package

Tougher Penalties Focus Of Road Safety Package

A bid to reduce the high number of young drivers dying unnecessarily on New Zealand roads is a central focus of a package of road safety initiatives announced today.

Police and Transport Minister Annette King and Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven say the proposals target young and novice drivers, speedsters and those who persistently break road rules by red light running and not wearing seatbelts.

“The road safety initiatives signed off in Cabinet this week complete the implementation of the Road Safety to 2010 Strategy. They include changes to the current demerit points system, changes to penalties for some speed offences, the introduction of demerit points on intersection and seatbelt offences and measures to reduce the high crash risk to young and novice drivers.

“The emphasis is on changing driver behaviour, which is why we are increasing demerits and decreasing fines.

“Young people far too often pay a high price for the right to drive. We know drivers under age 25 are over-represented in the road toll so strengthening the testing regime is one way to try and reduce the risks,” said Mr Duynhoven.

“We believe there will be widespread public support for these proposals as many of the issues targeted are a direct result of feedback from the public and road safety stakeholders to the See You There … Safe As! programme run last year,” said Ms King.

Ms King and Mr Duynhoven say the measures signal a crackdown on reckless driving behaviour on our roads and further strengthen the Government’s commitment to its goal of no more than 300 road deaths a year by the end of 2010.

A Bill which proposes raising the minimum driving age from 15 to 16 has been introduced to Parliament and is currently before the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee for consideration and public submission.

“A key issue arising from the Safe As consultation concerned the Graduated Driver Licensing System.

“The package of measures aimed at young and novice drivers propose extending the minimum period under 25 year olds spend on a learner licence from six months to 12 months and placing a stronger focus on the current demerit points system.

“The message from the consultation programme was that demerit points are a far more effective deterrent than fines. These measures will make it tougher for young drivers who repeatedly break the rules while on their graduated licences.

“They also build on proposals announced recently to reduce the blood alcohol content limit to zero for drivers under 20 who do not hold a full licence,” said Mr Duynhoven today.

The initiatives also propose shifting the balance between fine levels and demerit point levels for speed related offences and introducing demerit points on intersection infringements and seat belt offences.

ENDS

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