Earlier this week, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) launched a consultation process to seek public opinion on the introduction of a Graduated Driving Licence (GDL) for Irish learner drivers.

According to RSA Chief Executive Noel Brett: “The introduction of a Graduated Licensing system and reforming the way people learn to drive in Ireland is an important part of the Government’s Road Safety Strategy 2007 to 2012.

“The objective of the consultation process is to seek the views of interested parties and open up a discussion on the introduction of a Graduated Licensing system that’s appropriate for Ireland.”

Added Mr Brett: “Learner drivers are vulnerable road users and face greater risks and challenges due to their inexperience. Evidence suggests that the best way to reduce risk is to introduce measures that are designed to protect them until they have built up enough experience behind the wheel.”

The aim of the GDL system is to reduce the number of collisions, deaths and injuries among learner drivers, particularly in the high risk 17-to-24-year old bracket.

Such an implemented system would place several restrictions on learner drivers which would also apply for two-year period after passing the driving test. 

Measures which could form part of a new licensing system include:

*Zero alcohol levels

*Night-time curfew

*Increased penalty points

*Hazard perception testing

*Age restriction for passengers

*Mandatory tuition

*Restricted car power

*Extended supervised driving

*Upgraded driving test 

“The purpose of this consultation paper is to look at the likely practical implications of introducing changes to the way people learn to drive and to look for the views of the public on the likely impact of these changes,” said Noel Brett.

“Some changes have already taken place. For example, the old provisional licence has been replaced by a learner permit. All drivers holding a learner permit must now be accompanied by a driver who has held a full licence for a minimum of two years. A person may not take a driving test for six months after gaining a Learner Permit.”

The closing date for submissions for this eight-week-long consultative process is Friday, March 13th next.

Comments can be emailed to gdlconsultation@rsa.ie or they can be posted to: GDL Consultation, Road Safety Authority, Moy Valley Business Park, Primrose Hill, Ballina, County Mayo.

Copies of the consultation paper can also be read online at www.rsa.ie.