Shake-up For Learner Drivers In The Pipeline

The Environment Minister has tabled plans that amount to a radical shake-up of the rules for learner drivers.

Teenagers could be able to get behind the wheel at the age of 16-and-a-half, and the 45mph speed limit for new drivers could be scrapped.

If approved by the Executive at Stormont, the reforms could be introduced through the Assembly later this year.

Under the plans, the earliest anyone could get a full driving licence would be at the age of 17-and-a-half, and the post-test period would extend from one year to two, during which time drivers would wear an 'N' sticker.
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Learner drivers would be allowed on motorways when in dual-controlled cars with their instructor, and would have to take at least 12 months of lessons before sitting their driving test.

Alex Attwood, Environment Minister, said the changes were designed with road safety in mind.

He said: "Car drivers under 25 are responsible for 44% of road fatalities but hold only 11% of full car licences. We need to change how we help new drivers become safe drivers for life."

Otto Thoresen of the Association of British Insurers said: "Politicians in Westminster should consider following Northern Ireland's lead in making the changes that are needed to ensure that the young drivers of today become the older drivers of tomorrow. By giving young learners a more controlled driving experience before obtaining a full driving licence, they will learn to drive rather than learning to pass the driving test."


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