Training and not age key to safer drivers, MP’s told

Federated Farmers has told the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee considering the Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Amendment Bill and the Land Transport (Road Safety & Other Matters) Amendment Bill that driver education should be based on structured training and not an arbitrary age.

“In reality, what’s being proposed is an increase in the unsupervised driving age from 15 and a half to 17 years – not 16 as many people seem to think,” says Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers transport spokesperson.

“Somehow the debate has become about attributing maturity to age instead of ability.

“Without a shred of evidence, this change seems more based on hunches and causational links that you’ll be a safer driver because you’re 18-months older.

“We told the Select Committee that what Federated Farmers wanted was a much greater focus on the learner period. That includes extending the learner driver period from six months to one year.

“Training needs to occur at a time when young people are impressionable, teachable and focussed. Supervision, experience and structured training are much greater determinants for creating safer drivers than just your birthdate.

“All the statistics show that the learner license period is the safest period of a driver’s life. The accident spike comes when drivers obtain their restricted license and drive solo. That’s why we also support the graduated driver licensing system.

“I honestly feel driver training and licensing should learn from the structured training private pilots undergo.

“I mean, isn’t it odd that we’ll trust a student pilot to solo in a Piper Cherokee at age 16, but we won’t trust them with the Corolla to get to the aerodrome?

“While Federated Farmers supports a zero alcohol limit for drivers under the age 20, Parliament is moving to close up the legal ages for driving and legal drinking. That’s a recipe for disaster in our eyes.

“While we downplayed the effect on rural children and rural families in our submission, because there are compelling reasons for leaving the age and making training more rigorous, there will be a big impact.

“Public transport is feasible in Wellington but not in places like Waitomo,” Mr Aubrey concluded.


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