UFU and YFCU Give Evidence to Environment Committee on Rural Young Drivers

Thursday, 9 October, 2014

Representatives from both the Ulster Farmers’ Union and Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster have today (9th October) given evidence to the NI Assembly’s Environment Committee on the proposed Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill which, if implemented, could have a very considerable adverse impact on young drivers in rural areas.  

Speaking after the meeting, UFU Deputy President Barclay Bell said: “Both organisations made the case that some of the measures contained in the proposed Bill would have a disproportionate detrimental effect on young drivers in rural areas. In particular, the 12-month training period proposed before a young person could take their test and the limit proposed on the number of young passengers which a young driver may carry in a 6-month period after qualifying would create very significant practical difficulties.
“The UFU are adamant that young people in rural Northern Ireland should be in no way disadvantaged in terms of access to education, employment and leisure and we have been lobbying consistently on these issues. While there are some very welcome measures in this Bill- notably the removal of the 45mph speed limit and also the introduction of the compulsory wearing of helmets on quads whilst driving on the road- the proposed measures on both the length of time it takes to get your driving licence and the limit on the number of passengers you can carry would have an unwelcome and unnecessary effect on young people both financially and socially.”

Michael Reid, Chief Executive Officer of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster added: “It is vitally important that this sort of legislation does not jeopardise the measures already being put in place to tackle rural isolation. Young people in rural areas simply don’t have the alternative options available to them when it comes to getting around and this Bill contains some measures which would seriously limit their mobility. The Department of Environment has failed to give any good reasons for the inclusion of these measures and we cannot support measures which seem to have been made in such an ad hoc manner, which would negatively impact on our young people without any meaningful justification.”

Barclay concluded: “We found the Committee to be open-minded to our viewpoint and willing to consider some of our ideas. Hopefully this meeting has been worthwhile and will lead to a better and safer system for young people across Northern Ireland. We will be monitoring this proposed Bill closely as it progresses through the NI Assembly’s legislative process.”