18 Aug 2009

Sweeping changes to road safety laws proposed

7:31 pm on 18 August 2009

Sweeping changes to New Zealand's road safety laws are proposed in a Government strategy - including raising the driving age and lowering the blood alcohol limit.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce unveiled a discussion document on Tuesday containing more than 60 initiatives to improve road safety.

The document highlights particular areas of concern including alcohol and drug use, safer speeds, young drivers, motorcycling and the state of roads.

It suggests lowering the legal adult blood-alcohol limit from 80 milligrams to 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

That would mean a woman could have one drink an hour, and a man could have two drinks in the first hour and one drink an hour after that.

Other suggestions include raising the driving age from 15, to 16 or 17, having a zero alcohol limit for people aged under 20, and extending the learner period from six to 12 months.

The paper also suggests introducing random roadside testing for drug use.

Mr Joyce says though the Government has no intention of introducing all 60 initiatives, it is keen to hear what road safety interventions the public would like implemented.

The public has until October to lodge a submission, with the final strategy expected to be released by the end of this year.

AA backs proposal

The Automobile Association supports proposals to make it more difficult to get a driver's licence.

General manager of motoring affairs Mike Noon told Checkpoint young drivers are not being trained properly and are paying with their lives.

Mr Noon says all the research indicates new drivers should have at least 100 to 120 hours of supervised practice before driving on their own.

He says a way of getting that would be to increase the time on a learner's licence from six months to 12 months.