Madam Speaker, this afternoon, I would like to advise the Assembly that the Department of Transportation's Graduated Driver's Licence Program will come into effect as of August 1, 2005. The Graduated Driver's Licence Program will attach some new conditions to the process of acquiring a driver's licence for the first time. These conditions will encourage the novice driver to respect the responsibility involved in operating a motor vehicle safely.
When the 14th Legislative Assembly amended the Motor Vehicle Act for the strategy to reduce impaired driving in June of 2003, it also enacted amendments for a graduated driver's licence. Due to the fiscal restraint, the Department of Transportation deferred the introduction of this new program until now. This week, the department begins an information campaign to advise the public of the changes in the driver licensing process that will take effect this August.
Until now, there has been no minimum period of time that a person must spend learning to drive between getting a learner's licence and taking the road test for a full class 5 driver's licence. The Graduated Driver's Licence Program requires that a new driver must hold a learner's licence and drive under the supervision of a class 5 driver for a full 12 months before testing for the class 5.
Similarly, a new class 5 driver's licence is probationary for 12 months. In that time, the novice driver may not have more than one passenger with him or her in the front seat of a vehicle. New drivers are not permitted to drive with any amount of alcohol in their blood. The limit on the accumulation of demerit points for a mandatory licence suspension is 15 points for experienced drivers. For novice drivers, the limit is reduced to six points.
In a nutshell, those are the main elements of the Graduated Driver's Licence Program. They are not harsh or punitive. They are reasonable limitations to put on an inexperienced driver and consistent with the Graduated Driver's Licence Programs already in effect for some years now across southern Canada.
The value of the Graduated Driver's Licence Program is to emphasize for new drivers the skills they must acquire before they can operate a motor vehicle safely. Acquiring
those skills takes experience and gaining that experience takes time.
The motor vehicle is a sophisticated piece of technology and contributes to our freedom of mobility. Yet it can also be a dangerous and even deadly piece of equipment. With freedom comes responsibility. New drivers must learn to respect the motor vehicle. The purpose of the Graduated Driver's Licence Program is to provide an opportunity to learn that respect. Thank you, Madam Speaker.