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Focus on young drivers

Hon Steven Joyce
Minister of Transport

13 November 2009
Media Statement
Focus on young drivers

Transport Minister Steven Joyce says introducing measures designed to reduce the number of fatal and serious vehicle crashes involving young drivers is a priority for the government.

In a speech to the Motor Trade Association (MTA) today, Mr Joyce said young drivers (15-24) are “seriously over-represented” in New Zealand’s crash stats and in the road toll.

“Our record in this area does not compare favourably to those of other countries we like to compare ourselves to.

“Across the Tasman, for example, young Australians have a road fatality rate of 13 per 100,000 of population, while young New Zealanders have a fatality rate of 21 per 100,000 of population.”

Young drivers make up 14.5 percent of New Zealand’s population and 16 percent of all licensed drivers, but in 2008 they were involved in around 37 percent of all serious injury crashes.

Crashes where young drivers were at fault resulted in 122 deaths and 800 serious injuries last year alone.

And between 2000 and 2008 the number of people killed or seriously injured in a crash where a young driver was at fault has increased by about 17 percent.

Mr Joyce says these are statistics that cannot be overlooked.
“We are currently working to finalise a road safety strategy for the next ten years. A key focus in this will be actions to reduce the number of serious and fatal crashes involving our young people.”

Options being considered by officials as they work on the strategy include:
• Increasing the driving age to 16 or 17.
• Extending the learner licence period to 12 months.
• Strengthening the restricted licence test to encourage 120 hours of driving practice.
• Increasing the benefits of professional driver training
• Increasing the benefit of school road safety education
• Impounding vehicles of those who breach licence conditions.

Mr Joyce says the government won’t be introducing all of these measures, but he does want to put a package before Cabinet early next year as one of the first actions to flow from the new road safety strategy.

”The government can’t control the actions of all young people behind the wheel, but we can do some things to curb the number of young people dying on our roads and we can learn from the experiences of other countries.”


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