Consultation on changes required to implement Graduated Driver Licensing and update the practical driving test

Date published: 08 November 2017


A consultation on proposed changes required to implement Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) and change the practical driving test opens today.

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The framework for GDL has already been approved by the NI Assembly and forms part of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act (NI) 2016 (“the Act”). The Act also gives the Department powers to make further subordinate legislation which will set out the more detailed GDL provisions.

This consultation seeks views on both the detail of GDL and the proposed changes to the driving test. The new proposals include:

  • Changes to legislation that would permit learners to drive on motorways providing they are accompanied by a suitably qualified Approved Instructor;
  • New post-test plating arrangements;
  • Exemptions from the mandatory minimum learning period for those entitled to claim Carer’s Allowance and for members of the Armed Services;
  • Changes to the practical driving test, for example, increasing independent driving including the use of a sat nav during the test; extending the hours during which driving tests can be conducted; and including a test candidate’s failure to demonstrate eco safe driving techniques as a possible reason for failing the driving test;
  • The content and structure of the programme of training and the logbook used to record training; and
  • Exemptions from completing a logbook for those required to resit the practical driving test having been disqualified or having had their licence revoked.

Responses to the consultation exercise will help define how GDL will be implemented on the ground. These regulations will be submitted to the Infrastructure Minister and the Assembly in due course.  

Ann McKiver from the Northern Ireland Approved Instructors Council (NIAIC) encourages people to respond to the consultation: “As a qualified driving instructor I can see the benefits of GDL. These measures once introduced will provide new drivers with experience and skills over time in lower-risk environments.

“I encourage everyone to take this opportunity and have their say in how these changes will be implemented. GDL will encourage learners to become more responsible and safer drivers for life – invaluable skills which will make our roads safer. This is something we all have a stake in.”

The consultation opens today and will run until 17 January 2018. The consultation paper can be accessed at:

Notes to editors: 

  1. GDL is a package of measures being introduced with the aim of reducing the over representation of new - mainly young drivers - involved in fatal and serious road collisions and will apply to both drivers and motorcyclists.   It is currently planned for implementation in 2019/20.
  2. The main elements of GDL including changes to post-test passenger carrying restrictions for new drivers under 24 years of age, a mandatory minimum learning period, training programmes for learners and logbook requirements, have already been consulted on and form part of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act (NI) 2016.  Some changes to the practical driving test will also be introduced and the current 12 month restricted period  (where a new driver must display R plates) will be extended to a 24 month ‘new driver’ period that will require new drivers to display a distinguishing mark (plate) on the vehicle for two years after receiving a full licence.
  3. The Act provides the powers to introduce a package of measures to reform the learner and restricted driver schemes and to introduce GDL in the north of Ireland.  It also provides for the removal of the current 45mph speed restriction for learner and novice drivers / riders.
  4. The Act also contains powers to define the structure of some elements of GDL and to decide how and when certain elements will be implemented. This consultation exercise sets out some of these options and seeks views on the Department’s proposals to bring these powers into force. 
  5. Throughout the Consultation document a reference to driver includes rider, a reference to vehicle includes both car and motorcycle and a reference to practical test includes that for car and motorcycle unless otherwise stated. 
  6. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Infrastructure Press Office on 028 9054 0007 or e-mail: Out of hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.
  7. Follow the Department on Twitter: @deptinfra


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