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Driving age to be raised to 16

Published: 11:45AM Tuesday March 02, 2010 Source: ONE News

The days of 15 year olds being able to get drive on New Zealand's roads are numbered.

Prime Minister John Key confirmed on Tuesday that the government intends to raise the driving age from 15 to 16 years old.

The change is likely to come into effect before the end of the year in a bid to cut the number of teenagers involved in road accidents.

The measure is part of the government's Road Safety Strategy, due to be officially released on Wednesday, which outlines a range of measures aimed at reducing road deaths.

"It'll take some time to go through a select committee process and for the law to be changed ... but it will be this side of Christmas if it occurs," Key says.

The government says young drivers have become a lethal statistic, with 67 deaths and 506 serious injuries in crashes in the year to last September, involving at least one driver aged between 15 and 19.

Key says there will be no exceptions to the new rule, even in rural communities.

He says one reason for this change is the comparison of accident rates between New Zealand and Australia. He says the accident rate of 15 to 19 year olds is 60% higher in New Zealand than Australia.

Key also says the alcohol limit for young drivers is a factor in the accident rate.

It is thought that Cabinet will look at discussing a zero alcohol tolerance for teenage drivers in an attempt to reduce the road toll.

Overall public support appears widespread, except among teens, some of who are slamming the proposal.

James Sleep, from the youth union movement Stand Up, says the proposals discriminate against young drivers and will make life tougher for them.

He believes it will limit their access to education and other services, particularly in rural areas. 

Student's Against Drunk Driving (SADD) is also criticising the plan.

SADD national manager Julie Elliotte says it will not do anything to keep teens safer.

She says a better way of keeping youth safe is to increase the length of time drivers stay on their learners and restricted licenses.

And the Automobile Association is also not convinced the driving age is the problem, they want to see young drivers supervised for longer.

What do you think about the driving age being raised? Have your say on the messageboard below.

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  • Wai_boy said on 2012-02-27 @ 10:08 NZDT: Report abusive post

    This is ridiculous, yes I understand our statistical rate is high however in NZ we have a wider issue relating to driver behaviour which youth of today see from the role model set by parents or adults. We have a culture of running red lights and everyone else driving is an inconvenience to us& thats what needs to change

  • GRACEKENNEDY said on 2011-07-13 @ 19:12 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I strongly believe that changing the driving age in New Zealand is unnecessary. I feel this way because not only am I a responsible fourteen year old looking foward to getting my license but I know for a fact that car crashes often resulting in death and injury are generally due to alcohol related cases. A better solution would be to change the alcohol laws and to possibly increase the time a person is on their learners license.

  • steph_longstaff said on 2011-06-24 @ 09:43 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I dont think the driving age should change. What needs to happen is the government needs to restrict the cc rating of cars that learners and restricted drivers can actully drive, i beleve that if we stop learners and restricted drivers driving fast cars this will stop the amount of crashes as they will actully be able to control the cars they drive.

  • hojksgd said on 2011-03-29 @ 18:28 NZDT: Report abusive post

    The problem is not the people on learner licences because they usually have a responsible driver in the passenger seat, but it is the ease of which that a restricted licence can be gained which is the problem, people end up driving by themselves without enough experience on the road which is dangerous!

  • Charlottie269 said on 2010-09-22 @ 20:06 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I am a 14 year old in the year above my age which means all my friends in my year can drive but i will miss out for an extra 12 months on top of the other 6 months. This new law change is only going to do 1 thing. Piss me and everyone of my friends around my age right off. This law is going to make no change to the amount of deaths because i believe its not the 15 year old learner drivers who are killing people. this law is just going to put a bad taste in my mouth for our current government.