Official: Novice drivers ‘most at risk’

editorial image

Hard new evidence has revealed that novice drivers are the most at risk on our roads.

While this has been a common assumption, this is the first time in Northern Ireland that detailed statistics have been drawn up to gauge the extent of the problem.

The evidence has been published today in statistics released by DOE in relation to the Northern Ireland Road Safety Strategy (NIRSS).

The report reveals that during the three year period 2012-14, on average, 126 people per year have been killed or seriously injured (KSI) in road traffic collisions that involved a novice driver (within two years of passing their driving test). Of those killed or seriously injured, almost one-third of the casualties occur within the first six months of the driver passing their test.

Commenting on the figures, Mark H Durkan said: “These statistics do not come as a surprise. They are though, for the first time, hard evidence that novice drivers are the most at risk on our roads. Action is needed and that is what I am doing.

“The Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill (RTA Bill) currently before the Assembly includes a package of measures to reform the learner and restricted driver schemes and to introduce a system of Graduated Driver Licensing. This is a package of measures designed to provide new drivers with experience and skills gradually, over time, in lower risk environments. It is also proposed that new drivers under the age of 24 will be restricted from carrying more than one passenger who is aged 14 to 20 for the first six months post test. This is when the greatest risk occurs.

“I welcome the overall decline in casualties. The figures released today clearly demonstrate that the first six months of driving is a crucial time when new drivers and other road users will benefit from the legislation I am currently progressing through the Assembly. With a programme of training new drivers will gain the experience they need to becoming safer drivers.”