The novice driver category is one of nine measures developed by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) as part of a Graduated Driver Licensing System (GDLS) for Ireland. The RSA developed these measures following extensive study and public consultation. There is a great deal of international research and evidence to show that novice drivers are, as a group, at risk due to lack of experience, sometimes compounded by a mistaken sense that once qualified they may have little more to learn. The idea of placing restrictions on novice drivers is therefore well grounded in evidence.
The choice of a two-year period for the novice category is also based on international experience. It coincides with the preferred novice period in a number of other jurisdictions. In some other cases the novice period is as much as five years. One point of the novice period is to underline and impress on recently qualified drivers that the learning process does not end with the passing of the test, and that there are important improvements which develop only with experience. This takes time, and I am satisfied that a two-year period is an appropriate span for the category.
I plan to introduce the Road Traffic (No. 2) Bill, which provides for the two-year period for novice drivers, in the Oireachtas as soon as possible and there will be an opportunity to discuss the matter then.