Tough new driving laws in New Zealand

by Ray Clancy on August 5, 2011

New driving rules to be enforced

Young people traveling to New Zealand to work or visit face tough new driving rules from Sunday 07 August.

It will be against the law for drivers under the age of 20 to consume alcohol before driving, Transport Minister Steven Joyce has announced.

The current blood alcohol limit for drivers under the age of 20 is BAC 0.03 (30 mgs of alcohol per 100 mls of blood), this will reduce to zero.

Joyce said that the reduced BAC is the second of three current measures being introduced which will enhance the safety of young drivers. It follows an increase in the minimum driving age, from 15 to 16, which came into force on Monday 01 August.

In February next year the restricted license test will be strengthened to encourage young and novice drivers to spend more time practicing their skills under supervision before they are able to drive solo.

‘Improving the safety of young drivers is a priority for the government as young drivers are disproportionately represented in fatal and serious crash statistics,’ said Joyce.

Young people aged 15 to 19 years make up 7.4% of New Zealand’s population and 6.1% of all licensed drivers, but in 2010, they were involved in around 17% of all serious injury crashes. Crashes, where young drivers were at fault, resulted in 60 deaths and 385 serious injuries last year alone.

‘Even more concerning is that 48% of those fatalities and 33% of those seriously injured in crashes where teen drivers were at fault involve alcohol as a factor. We cannot continue to ignore these statistics,’ explained Joyce.

‘Sadly we are all too aware of the tragic consequences that can occur when a group of teens make a bad decision about who is sober enough to drive. This law change will make it black and white. The message to teen drivers is simple: if you plan on drinking, don’t plan on driving.

‘While none of the measures the government is introducing is a silver bullet on its own, together they will have a significant impact over time they will all help keep our most inexperienced drivers safer on the roads,’ he added.

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