Plans to radically revamp new driver laws in Northern Ireland have been announced by the country’s environment minister Alex Attwood.

The proposals include lowering the provisional licence age to 16 and a half, but introducing a mandatory minimum learning period of 12 months for provisional licence holders.

The post-test period would be increased from one to two years while new drivers up to age 24 would not be allowed to carry young passengers (aged 14 to 20, except immediate family members) during their first six months post-test unless there was a supervising driver over 21, with three years full licence as a passenger.

The move is intended to reflect “best practice around the world” while the car insurance industry has pledged to review premiums for young drivers if such changes were undertaken.

Attwood said: “The objective of better road safety with the ambition of zero road deaths on one hand and reduced driver premiums on the other makes a bold and informed approach the right approach. This is the core argument at the heart of the proposals.”

Road safety charity Brake said it “strongly welcomes plans for a minimum learning period and initial ban on young passengers”.

Senior campaigns officer Ellen Booth continued: “These elements of graduated driver licensing have been shown to reduce young driver risk.

“Brake will continue to campaign for graduated driver licensing across the UK. We hope this progressive step by the Northern Ireland government will serve as a positive influence on Westminster.”

Follow BusinessCar on TWITTER.