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Arlene Foster seeks views on proposed changes to driving test

Friday, 23 May 2008

Road Safety Minister Arlene Foster is seeking views in Northern Ireland on proposals to change the driving test.

A consultation document has issued in Great Britain by the Department for Transport (DfT) on proposals to reform the way people learn to drive, and the way they are tested.

The Minister said: “Our colleagues in DfT believe that these reforms will contribute to a reduction in road deaths and injuries, particularly among newly-qualified drivers, and we would like to know what the people of Northern Ireland think about these proposals.”

The DfT consultation introduces such proposals as:

  • An improved driving test;
  • An improved learning process;
  • Better information about driving instructors and improved instructor training; and
  • further options for learning and qualifications.

“The measures which DfT are consulting on will complement my Department’s upcoming consultation on Graduated Driver Licensing and together they will provide a holistic view of the future of learning to drive in Northern Ireland,” the Minister said.

The Northern Ireland consultation on Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL), which it is anticipated will issue in June 2008, will contain proposals on measures such as changing or abolishing the 45 miles per hour speed limit for “L” and “R” drivers; restrictions on night-time driving; restrictions on the age and/or number of passengers which can be carried; and lower drink drive limits for learner and restricted drivers.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Department of the Environment is reviewing the current arrangements for learner (“L”) and restricted (“R”) drivers with a view to consulting on a scheme of graduated driver licensing for Northern Ireland.
  2. Northern Ireland driving regulations already contain some elements of GDL including: display of “R” (restricted) plates for a year after passing the driving test; a 45mph restriction on “R” (and “L”) drivers, limiting their exposure to higher speeds; and more severe penalties for newly qualified drivers committing traffic offences - new full licence holders who receive six or more penalty points within the first two years of passing the driving test have to surrender their licences and re-sit both tests (theory and practical).
  3. At the same time, Department for Transport in Great Britain is conducting a consultation on the driver training and testing process and is proposing a range of reforms. Department of the Environment is seeking views from stakeholders and interested parties in Northern Ireland on the proposals set out in the DfT consultation.
  4. For media inquiries please contact DOE Press Office 028 9054 0014 or out of hours, contact the EIS Duty Press Officer on pager 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.