RACQ welcomes drink ban on new drivers

The introduction of zero-alcohol limits for novice drivers of any age has been welcomed by Queensland’s motoring body, the RACQ.

The tough new laws, which came into effect last month, prohibit all learner and provisional licence holders, and all restricted (RE) motorcycle licence holders in their first year of riding, from driving after consuming any alcohol, no matter their age.

RACQ spokesman Jim Kershaw said the organisation supported the zero-alcohol consumption restrictions and believed the tougher measures would encourage safer drivers.

“It is important in that learning time, that people are not drinking at all,” he said.

“You are a novice driver no matter what age so these laws will minimise alcohol playing any part in road fatalities.”

Transport Minister Rachel Nolan said the new zero alcohol limits were about removing a major risk factor for inexperienced drivers after statistics showed drink driving was a contributing cause of road fatalities involving novice drivers.

“Between 1 July 2001 and 30 June 2008 there were 36 fatalities in Queensland resulting from crashes where a learner or provisional licence holder aged 25 years or more had a positive blood alcohol concentration (BAC),” she said.

“This represents 43.9 per cent of all fatalities from crashes involving these drivers and that’s a tragic statistic.”

Ms Nolan said the crackdown also extended to first-year motorcycle riders because figures showed almost half of 64 fatal crashes between 2004 and 2008 involved riders aged 25 years or over.

Prohibiting alcohol consumption on holders of the Queensland Transport’s graduated licences showed the government was committed to getting tough on drink drivers, protecting novice and learner drivers and making the roads safe for everyone, the Transport Minister said.

“The zero-alcohol restriction will reinforce the message to these licence holders that, regardless of age they are novice drivers and riders who need to take extra care as they develop their skills unimpeded by alcohol.

“This makes it easier for both the drivers and the police because it is clear that if you are driving with an L or P licence or in your first 12 months of riding on an RE licence you must have no alcohol in your system.”

Mr Kershaw said the RACQ was happy with current alcohol limits for open licence holders, but more research was definitely needed into the effects of drinking before getting behind the wheel.

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