Learner drivers not the problem
The minimum driving age has been raised to 16 and a zero alcohol limit for teenage drivers will come into force next week.
Transport Minister Steven Joyce said this bill was the most significant road safety legislation since the Land Transport Act was passed in 1998.
But Matamata instructor James AA driving Turney and Matamata College principal Glenn Rowsell believe this bill has not fully addressed the problem of young drivers being overrepresented in crash statistics.
Mr Turney, who has been a driving instructor in Matamata for four years, said it was not a driver’s age that caused the crashes.
‘‘I believe it comes down to driving experience and training, not age,’’ he said.
it had been brought to his attention that the biggest majority of teen crashes occurred when teenagers had their full licence.
‘‘I recently attended a conference and the speaker said learner drivers who drive on their own are at less risk because there are no distractions and I would agree with him,‘‘ he said. ‘‘I think the age should be raised when people can get their full licence, not when they get their learners – and make it a lot harder for people to get their full licence.’’
Under the new law, teenagers must be 16 before applying for a learner licence, then wait six months until they can apply for their restricted.
They must be 18 to apply for their full licence unless they undertake an approved advanced driving course, which allows them to sit a full licence test at 17 and a half.
Most teenagers spoken to by the Matamata Chronicle were frustrated that the minimum driving age has been raised but Matamata College student Tayla Carson said it was a positive step.
At 15, Tayla already has her learner’s but under the new system, has to wait until she is 16 to sit her restricted licence.
‘‘Even though I got my learner’s at 15, I don’t think I was ready to be on the road. I just knew the rules in the road code,’’ she said.
‘‘So I think those who are 16 are going to be more mature on the road.’’
She currently has a driving lesson every two weeks and believes the training is a vital part to staying safe on the road.
‘‘The more experience we have, the more we know about how to deal with certain situations we find ourselves in on the road,’’ she said.
Mr Turney said that driving training should be implemented in schools as a part of the curriculum and become an National Certificate of Educational Achievement standard. ‘‘ Supervised driving training can get expensive, so this would enable more students to be able to learn to drive safely before they leave high school,’’ he said.
‘‘Holding a licence is a huge responsibility, so extra training is needed.’’
Mr Turney was a gliding instructor for 25 years in Waharoa before becoming a driving instructor in Matamata and a truck driving instructor for in Hamilton.
In February 2012, New Zealand Transport Agency will tighten the standards needed to pass a restricted licence by making the test one hour instead of 30 minutes and 120 hours of supervised driving practice prior to the test will be encouraged.
Law change: The minimum driving age has been raised to 16 affecting Matamata teenagers and Tayla Carson, 15, supports the new law.