2010 News

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01 September 2010

RSA announce nine additional measures to protect learner and inexperienced drivers

RSA announce nine additional measures to protect learner and inexperienced drivers. The RSA has today (1st September 2010) given 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 today 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.

Noel Brett said "We believe that these measures are proportionate, fair and necessary. I make a particular plea to parents to increase their involvement in supervising their young adults learning to drive. Whilst the mandatory lessons will not apply to existing learner permit holders I do urge all learner drivers to engage with an ADI and undertake structured training. With the support of young people and their parents I am confident that these new measures will make a huge contribution to reducing death and injuries amongst the next generation of Irish drivers not just now but for their driving careers."

ENDS.

For further information on Graduated Licensing

Website: www.rsa.ie/gdl       

E-mail: gdl@rsa.ie     

Telephone: 1890 406040

 

For Media Queries RSA Communication Office.

Telephone: 096 25008

E-mail: mediadept@rsa.ie

Editors notes.

Learning to Drive in Ireland.

The Government’s Road Safety Strategy 2007 – 2012 set out a detailed action plan to radically reduce the number and severity of collisions on Irish roads. By the end of 2009 Ireland had recorded the lowest number of road fatalities since records began in 1959 and had moved into seventh place as one of the best performing countries in the EU.

A key building block in the Road Safety Strategy is to reform the way in which drivers are trained, tested and licensed. Driver testing was first introduced in Ireland in 1964 and the road safety strategy sought to end long term reliance on provisional licences, enhance the training of learner drivers to reflect the modern driving environment, vehicle characteristics and road network, professionalise the driver training industry and ensure that the new generation of drivers are trained to drive safely for life rather than merely training to pass a driving test.

The first phase of actions has now been completed and includes the following:

  • Replacing the provisional licence with a new learner permit.
  • Strengthening rules on accompaniment and use of L Plates.
  • Introduction of six months practical experience before sitting driving test.
  • Eliminating long wait times to obtain a driving test from an average wait of 34 weeks down to 10 weeks. (Currently at a national average of 8 weeks).
  • Regulate the driving instruction industry and introduce FETAC accredited training for all approved driving instructors. (There are 1860 approved driving instructors currently registered).
  • Expand the scope of the driver theory test. The question bank has been rewritten and expanded by 70% to include a more detailed knowledge base and test questioning.
  • Complete a detailed public consultation process on Graduated Driving Licensing (PDF) (published in 2009)
  • Complete a detailed public consultation process on Compulsory Basic Training for motorcycling (PDF) (published in 2007  ).
  • Formal recommendations on Graduated Driving Licensing (PDF) made to Minister for Transport in December 2009. The Minister accepted these recommendations in full in May 2010 and the RSA is now progressing with implementation.

The second phase of actions implementing the Graduated Driver Licensing Recommendations is currently underway and included the following:

  •  Recommendation 1.

Strengthen the role of the supervising driver in the driver learning process for car learner permit holders; prepare guidance manuals and logbook for the supervising driver. Proposed that a learner log a minimum of hours driving with a supervising driver, including minimum of night-time hours.

Update: Work has commenced on drafting the legislation needed to implement this measure and pending legislation it is proposed to introduce this measure on a voluntary basis. This measure will apply to new first time learner permit holders from the commencement date of the new legislation. Learner driver guidance manuals are being written and will be published shortly. Learner log books will be available to all learner permit holders and will be utilised in conjunction with a structured training relationship with an Approved Driving Instructor.

  • Recommendation 2.

Introduce compulsory basic training (CBT) requiring learners to cover a set syllabus with an approved driving instructor (ADI).

Update: Work has progressed on syllabus design and we plan to implement compulsory driving lessons for motorcyclists and car drivers. Regulations to provide a legislative basis for the scheme have been drafted. The programme titled Initial Basic Training (IBT) will apply to new first time learner permit holders from the date of implementation. The programme will commence for all new first time motorcycle learner permit holders from 6th December 2010 and for all new first time car (Category B) learner permit holders with effect from 4th April 2011. It will not be mandatory for those who obtained their first learner permit before those dates however we do encourage all learner drivers to engage with approved driving instructors and to undertake structured training.

  • Recommendation 3.

The Blood Alcohol Concentration to be reduced to 20mg/100ml for all learner drivers and novice drivers.

Update: The Road Traffic Act 2010 made legislative provision to implement this measure for all learner permit holders and novice drivers in the first two years after obtaining their full driving licence. The Act has been signed by the President in July 2010 and once testing equipment has been procured and Gardai trained the new reduced drink driving levels for learner and novice drivers will be implemented. The implementation date is September 2011.

  • Recommendation 4.

The penalty points for specified offences 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.

Update: This measure requires primary legislation and work has commenced on drafting legislation to give effect to this measure. It is intended that for specific offences the number of penalty points would be doubled for learner permit holders and those in the first two years of their full driving licence. The offences to be dealt with in this way include speeding, seat belt wearing, handheld mobile phone use whilst driving, dangerous overtaking and non compliance with traffic lights. This measure will apply to all learner permit holders in all licence categories once the legislation is enacted.

  • Recommendation 5.

That a standard Hazard Perception Test be developed using best practice and that this test be carried out during the novice driver phase.

Update: A study will be commenced shortly to develop and evaluate options for an appropriate standalone hazard perception test. Following on from the study it is proposed to introduce the test. It is planned to implement this measure in mid 2012 and will require enabling legislation.

  • Recommendation 6.

Review the existing driving test to enhance it to make it more effective and to enable it to influence the learning undertaken by the learner before the test.

Update: Work is well advanced on this measure with external subject matter expert input. It is planned to introduce enhanced driving test measures in the fourth quarter of 2011. The new test will be externally accredited.

  • Recommendation 7.

Novice drivers to be required to display an R (restricted) plate during the first two years of their full driving licence.

Update: The mandatory use of an R plate for the first two years on a full driving licence signifies that the driver is a novice, has passed their driving test but is subject to the restrictions of the graduated driving licence regime. Enabling legislation is required to provide a legislative basis for this measure and to provide sanctions for non compliance.

  • Recommendation 8.

Material for the Driver Theory Test should be reconfigured to make it more effective as a learning tool.

Update: Driver theory test material will be reviewed with a view to improving the content and its effectiveness as a learning tool. Work is commencing on this initiative and it is planned to be introduced in the autumn of 2011.

  • Recommendation 9.

The range and combination of sentencing options available to the courts for driving offences be expanded.

Update: The RSA recognises that the majority of learner and novice drivers are responsible road users and did not propose the more restrictive graduated driving measures on a population wide basis. It is proposed that additional sentencing options for certain road traffic offences be discussed with the Department of Justice and Law Reform, the Gardai and the Courts Service and subject to agreement a range of additional sentencing options be made available for learner and novice drivers at the point of conviction.

The additional options which the RSA wishes to implement include:

  • Requirement to re-take a driving test.
  • Requirement to fit a certified and monitored speed limiter device.
  • Prohibition on the carriage of passengers.
  • Specific curfew on permitted driving times.
  • Requirement to undertake a specific rehabilitation programme.
  • Requirement to undertake a set number of driving lessons with an approved driving instructor (ADI).
  • Requirement to fit a certified and monitored alcolock device.
  • Requirement to fit a certified and monitored tachograph device.
  • Requirement to fit a certified and monitored speed recording and tracking device.

Background Reference Material:

  • Literature Review: Independent driving in the driver training and on-road assessment protocols –building an evidence base. TRL (Transport Research Laboratory), (2008a).
  • Graduated Driver Licensing; Effectiveness of Systems and individual Components, Report No. 209, Monash University Accident Research Centre, Victoria, Australia. Senserrick and Whelan, (2003),
  • Young Drivers; The Road to Safety. OECD/ECMT, (2006).
  • Graduated Driver Licensing System – Consultation Paper. RSA 2008.
  • Compulsory Basic Training Motorcyclists Consultation Paper. RSA 2007.
  • Graduated Driver Licence Recommendations. RSA 2009.

All documents can be downloaded from www.rsa.ie/gdl


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