Minister pressed on new road law

Mark H Durkan
Mark H Durkan

A proposed rule to limit the number of teenage friends who can go for a drive together presents difficulties for police, drivers and passengers, the Environment Minister has acknowledged.

Mark H Durkan made the remark as he was being quizzed about what he believes will be a life-saving package of road safety measures, put before the Assembly on Monday.

In addition to tougher drink-drive limits, his Bill includes a plan to forbid more than one teenager (aged between 14 and 20) from being carried in the same car by a driver aged under 24 – unless they are immediate relatives.

Speaking on BBC Radio, Mr Durkan said: “I recognise and accept the difficulty that this would present to police, to drivers and to passengers... All this remains to be worked out. This is at a very early stage.”

He told the show mandatory seatbelt-wearing may well have looked tough to enforce when first introduced too.

Asked what the PSNI advice to him had been, he said: “On this specific proposal around the young drivers and passengers, no, I have not had a conversation.”

The presenter asked: “You haven’t spoken to the very people who will have to enforce this?”

“But I will be,” he replied.

The Department of the Environment (DoE) later moved to clarify that whilst the minister may not have had face-to-face discussions with police on that particular point, there have been “extensive discussions between the DoE and the PSNI on all aspects of this Bill as it has developed”.

The new measures – contained in the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill – will be debated on May 27.

The DoE added that there would be plenty of opportunity for discussion from here on in, and that the minister aims to meet the chief constable to discuss the new proposals too.