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It's Not How Youth Drink - It's How They Drive

Road Toll Interventions: It's Not How Youth Drink - It's How They Drive

Candor Trust is excited to finally see some resolve to get down to the nitty gritty, and to fix what has long been obviously broken with the current approach to our grotesque level of youth carnage. The road safety package announced by the Government will significantly progress the cause of road safety, with several smart cliff top interventions that meld nicely together.

A smart sprucing up of the initially underperforming Graduated Driver Licence System may well see initial hopes of a 30% reduction in the burden of crash related injury carried by youth finally realised - unless pot driving remains taboo. The greater emphasis on driver training is in line with International conventions, but the real test of Labour's grist will be whether the "more robust" practical driving test they've also promised materialises.

Placement of an early warning system of "teen trouble" via notification to the registered vehicle owner should any young driver in a "loan car" breach their licence conditions, may often tip off families allowing them to deal with any issues before worse comes to worst. Obviously disclosure by the Police to vehicle owners may arise privacy issues for young people.

But it needs to be considered that this system of "dobbing in" must be preferable and more PC than having some one who is obviously headed for grief being splattered all over the road, and then the front pages for a day. Even the removal of Draconian penalties for learners licence breaches which have caused dangerous pursuits ($400 on "Juniors") would be a triumph just on it's own.

The move to a zero limit for people under 20 and not on full licences is viewed by Candor as a red herring as driver training is 100x the issue that alcohol is in this age group and driver class. The Breen report advised Government that a zero limit even for all youth would have less than minor toll impact. In 2006 under 10% of dead drivers under 20 were over their low limit - versus 1/4 of the older drivers.

Government has layed out a fair framework for shifting to a penalty and training environment that encourages more responsibility from the drivers of NZ and particularly young people. One that also offers some opportunity for families interested in doing so to share in the responsibility for safety.

To get the desired outcomes this shake up tantalises with, the current "system" Land Transport NZ has of requiring testers to pass a certain percentage of all licence sitters in their region needs to be abolished, Candor wishes to stress. Unless there is a set standard required to achieve a pass mark that is applicable from Whangarei to Bluff Governments assault on the youth toll may be for nothing.

The policy anounced is a job well done apart from an exclusive focus on youth alcohol when the local evidence says their pot driving is bigger in youth fatalities. Candor hopes the policy will be embraced by the community, in all of it's aspects. The Trust believes the changes to the GDLS and practical exams must be implemented as quickly as practicable.


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