Environment Minister rejects 'idiotic nonsense' claim


Environment Minister Mark H Durkan rejected a claim that his Road Traffic Bill included some "idiotic nonsense", on 27 May 2014.

Sammy Wilson said the bill was aimed at "micromanaging what people do on the roads".

The minister outlined the measures included in the bill, including greater powers for the police to carry out checkpoints for drink driving, a graduated driving licence (GDL) scheme and the mandatory wearing of helmets on quad bikes.

Mr Durkan proposed that police should be enabled to set up checkpoints to breathalyse any driver.

The minister said this would address the problem of drink-drivers who believe "the risk of being stopped is low and it is a risk worth taking".

He outlined the GDL scheme, which would lower the age limit for the holding of a provisional licence from 17 to 16 and a half.

Learners would not be allowed to take their driving test for a year and there would be restrictions on the number of young passengers in a car driven by a new driver aged 17 to 24.

The Deputy Chairwoman of the Environment Committee, Pam Cameron of the DUP said the bill was "very timely" and that the committee was "fully supportive".

Sinn Fein's Cathal Boylan was concerned about the effects of some aspects of the bill on young people working in the hospitality industry in rural areas.

"It's slightly weighted on the big stick approach as opposed to the carrot approach," he said.

Alban Maginness of the SDLP said he accepted the basic principles of the bill and that it could "strike the right balance".

He said that accidents in rural areas resulted in a disproportionately higher level of fatalities.

The UUP's Tom Elliott favoured a tightening-up of the existing legislation on driving under the influence of drugs.

He was unhappy with the idea of a one-year gap between getting a provisional licence and taking the test.

Kieran McCarthy of Alliance said his party supported the bill.

The debate continued after Question Time.

You can view the second part of the bill here.

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