'Ban Young Night Drivers' Call Applauded

As the young continue to suffer the brunt of death and injury on Ireland's roads, new UK research that claims a ban on newly qualified young drivers motoring at night would save lives has received support in the North.

The researcher's call received political backing locally with East Antrim DUP MLA, Alastair Ross, responding that he had already suggested the move.

Mr Ross, who has won Stormont Assembly support for the introduction of a Graduated Drivers Licensing scheme (GDL) to be introduced in NI, said: "GDL was a policy idea that I originally proposed and won support for over two years ago, and a policy initiative that the NI Environment Minister has went out to public consultation on.

"It is encouraging that the options that the Assembly discussed back then have now won support from road safety groups and researchers from every corner of our United Kingdom."

He said that whilst the media will focus on the headline grabbing suggestion about banning young drivers from using their cars at night, GDL presents a range of options that could be used to make our roads safer.

"It places some restrictions for a short time on those drivers that statistics show are most likely to be involved in a serious accident.

"I personally would favour a GDL scheme that aims to help novice drivers build up their experience on the roads.

"Policies such as a minimum hours of driving with a qualified instructor, night time driving and motorway driving as part of training, lower drink drive limits and possibly even restrictions on passengers for a short period of time after passing a test are all ways of ensuring that new drivers, irrespective of age, begin driving in low risk conditions first before they drive in conditions where accidents are more likely."

The Cardiff University study this week said such measures could save 200 lives a year and lead to 1,700 fewer injuries.

They also says NHS costs in treating people involved in road accidents could be significantly cut if a system of GDL was introduced for 17-to 24-year-olds and operated for up to two years after they passed their driving tests.

Sarah Jones, a public health consultant who led the research, said: "GDL works in other countries and there is no good reason why it wouldn't work here."

But, Edmund King, President of the AA, said there were already tough measures in place to protect young drivers.

He also said that in other countries motorists were able to drive from a younger age than in Britain, where there was also a tougher test.

The drivers' champion added that young motorists already face a ban when they reached six penalty points on their licence compared with 12 points for older drivers.


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