New Approach to Learner Drivers Could Benefit Everyone

A big change in the regulations for young car drivers in Northern Ireland could at long last see their motor insurance premiums come down.

The changes to rules governing young drivers have been proposed by Environment Minister Alex Attwood and they really are massively different to the present system. Under the proposals youngsters will become eligible to apply for a provisional driving licence at the age of 16 years 6 months. They will have to complete a mandatory training period of 12 months before taking a test, and after passing, carry an “N” plate, advising other drivers they are a new driver, for two years. For the first six months of this period they will be forbidden from carrying passengers from their own peer group unless they are directly related.

Mr Attwood also proposes to abandon the current maximum speed limit of 45mph for learner drivers and to allow them to gain experience on motorways before they pass their test, so long as they are under the guidance of fully qualified and approved driving instructors. Mr Attwood said it was time for action rather than words when it came to road safety and explained: “These proposals would create the most radical change in the driver training regime for a generation. I know that the proposals will challenge our thinking. But the objective of better road safety with the ambition of zero road deaths on one hand and reduced driver premiums on the other makes a bold and informed approach the right approach. This is the core argument at the heart of the proposals.”

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) have already welcomed Mr Attwood’s proposals and confirmed that insurers would look favourably on a young learner driver operating under these rules. The changes are expected to go through the Northern Ireland Assembly later this year and become law before 2013.

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