Learner driv­ers not the prob­lem

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - By LAURA MCLEAY

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.

Mr Rowsell

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.

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