Timaru Courier - Driver and passenger safety at forefront of changes

Columns
Thursday, December 4, 2014

December is finally here so it's time to start thinking about making preparations for the coming festive season. Still, the business of government  rolls on and over the past few days some changes have been implemented that will affect a number of us and as such definitely warrant a mention..

First are the newly lowered alcohol limits for all adult drivers. The new limit for motorists over 20 years is now down from 400mcg to 250mcg of alcohol per litre of breath. The blood alcohol limit lowers from 80mg to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

Again this lowered limit has been set to save lives and prevent around 64 injuries per year. Social costs of about $200 million are also expected over 10 years. For drivers under 20, their limit stays the same - zero.

Any changes that will save life should be welcomed. Let's hope they're adhered too.

Another change, more for the younger among us - but not always, has been made to the Graduated Driver Licensing System (GDLS).  This change now requires drivers or riders sitting their learner or restricted licences to progress to the next stage of the GDLS within five years. Failure to do so will result in the need to pass another theory test to renew their licence.

This move is to enable novice drivers and riders to gain skills and experience and to progress to a full licence within the set time limit. For those wondering why this is needed well, there a more than a few motorists who don''t proceed past the student stage so the changes have been implemented to improve driving standards, increase young motorist's safety and to bring down the road toll.

On a lighter note I recently attended the Kurow Bridge's big family day out. What a grand day commencing with a welcome, brief official speeches, a dedication of the impressive on-site historical legacy and a tour of the restored Kurow Island. Then came the festivities - a grand parade, followed by bands, dancing, stalls and food for everyone. Rural New Zealand at its best. Well done Kurow and congratulations to all involved.

Finally, my offices close on Dec 19 for the summer break and will re open on January 19 so I will take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and safe holiday season.