New drivers are a dicey lot. Generally young, usually insecure, and always inexperienced, they account for a lot of accidents on the road. Moreover, they make up more than their share of impaired drivers as well.
The government of Nova Scotia is amending their province’s Motor Vehicle Act to make the transition to a full licence an even more gradual process for new drivers. Instead of six months, the learner phase of Nova Scotia’s licensing program would last one year. Moreover, new drivers would have to keep their blood alcohol content at zero for two years.
In the learner phase, no passengers are allowed except for a supervising driver. The proposed amendment would require that anyone acting as a supervising driver should have been in possession of a licence for at least two years.
At the root of these changes is experience. Young drivers can be smart, well-intentioned, and responsible. But good driving is largely a result of years of practice: encountering the myriad situations that crop up on the road. These can include right-of-way issues, quick decisions, maintaining car control, weather problems, and more. Until you have encountered these and know what to do, you are at risk. Nova Scotia’s graduated licensing program has proven itself a literal life-saver, reducing road deaths considerably since its adoption in 1994.
The zero tolerance for alcohol is an important measure. Like other provinces, Nova Scotia is especially tough on young and new drivers who driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A number of factors cause young drivers to be involved in more than their share of accidents:
- They are inexperienced drivers, as we have noted
- They tend to think of themselves as invincible and always in control
- They are not any more experienced at drinking than they are at driving. For instance, they are more likely to binge drink than adults
- They are under a greater burden of peer pressure to conform with group behaviour, which might include drinking
Apparently Nova Scotia legislators feel it is not too much to ask of a new driver to abstain from alcohol completely for the first two years of driving. MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Canada agrees with the changes to the Motor Vehicle Act. One hopes that when the next round of statistics comes that these provisions will have saved a few young lives.