Northern Ireland Assembly members have given their backing to the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill which will see lower drink drive limits, a more structured approach to learning to drive, and restrictions on new young drivers carrying passengers immediately after passing the test.
The drink drive proposals will see the introduction of a lower limit as introduced in Scotland in December 2014, in tandem with a graduated drink drive penalty scheme. The new law will reduce the limit from 80mg in every 100 ml of blood, to 50 mg in every 100 ml of blood.
The Assembly gave its backing to new drivers up to the age of 24 not being allowed to carry more than one young passenger (aged 14-20yrs, except immediate family members) during the six months after they pass their test, between the hours of 10pm and 6am.
Mark H Durkan, Northern Ireland’s environment minister, said: “This is an important milestone towards reducing deaths on our roads.
“I welcome Assembly backing for the lower drink drive limits, for a new graduated driver licensing scheme, and a new requirement for quad drivers to wear a helmet when riding on roads.
“There is compelling evidence of the heightened risk of collisions when new young drivers carry teenage passengers. Young drivers carrying two young passengers are twice as likely to be killed as driving alone, and four times more likely to die if carrying three young passengers.
“The Assembly has given its backing for young people not carrying passengers during night-time hours, for the first six months after they pass their test. I would like to see this being for the full 24 hours and feel there is still work to be done to the legislation regarding that."
The Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill was introduced to the Assembly on 12 May 2014. Following its second stage debate and committee scrutiny, the Bill returned to the Assembly on 29 June 2015 for its consideration stage. The Bill will now go to further consideration stage.