On September 1, the RSA gave an update on the measures outlined in the Road Safety Strategy 2007-2012 to enhance the way in which drivers are trained, tested and licensed in Ireland. The first phase of the modernisation project has been completed and an additional nine actions have been announced.
The modernisation of driver training and licensing is a key foundation stone of the Governments current Road Safety Strategy. Driver testing was first introduced in Ireland in 1964 and the RSA has been working since its establishment in September 2006 to modernise the training, testing and licensing system.
Noel Brett, CEO, Road Safety Authority said "the modern driving environment is particularly demanding with increased volumes of traffic, more complex road networks and faster vehicles. It is essential that drivers are formally trained to drive safely for life rather than training just to pass a test. I want to acknowledge the maturity and responsibility which the vast majority of young and inexperienced drivers demonstrate. However driver inexperience is a major risk factor in death and injury collisions on our roads. The facts are that young and inexperienced drivers are more likely to kill or be killed on Irish roads. "
In designing a graduated driving licensing system for Ireland the RSA has studied the effectiveness of these measures internationally, carried out a detailed public consultation process and sought to introduce measures that maximise the safety of inexperienced drivers and those with whom they share the road whilst seeking to avoid penalising responsible, compliant novice drivers.
The nine new measures are:
- All new first time learner permit holders with effect from 6th December 2010 for motorcycles and 4th April 2011 for cars will be required to undertake mandatory initial basic training (IBT) with an approved driving instructor (ADI). The course will be 16 hours for motorcycle and 12 hours for car licences.
- The role of the supervising driver accompanying learner drivers will be strengthened and we will introduce a requirement for learner drivers to keep a learner log to be signed by their approved driving instructor and their accompanying driver.
- The drink driving limits for drivers with learner permits and those in their first two years on a full driving licence will be reduced to 20mg/100ml. This legislation has been passed by the Oireachtas and will come into effect in September 2011.
- The penalty points for specified offences will be increased for learner and novice drivers so that accumulation of penalty points during the learning phase and in the first two years on a full licence will pose a real threat of disqualification and will impact positively on risk taking and driver behaviour.
- A standard Hazard Perception Test will be developed and carried out during the novice driver phase. The hazard perception test will specifically address risk taking and perception of risk among novice drivers.
- The current driving test will be modernised to more effectively reflect driver competencies and to influence the learning undertaken by learners. We will introduce a new externally accredited driving test format in the last quarter of 2011.
- Novice drivers will be required to display an R (restricted) plate during the first two years of their full driving licence to support the restrictions that are placed on their licence for that duration.
- The current Driver Theory Test question bank and supporting learning materials will be reconfigured to make it more effective as a learning tool.
- We will engage with the Department of Justice and Law Reform, the Gardai and the Courts Service to develop the range and combination of sentencing options available to the courts for driving offences for learner and novice drivers.