Sunday, November 26, 2006

Time for P-Plate Driver Rule Change?

26 Nov 2006

Since August 2006 ther have been more than 14 young people killed in car accidents involving P-Plate drivers. The accidental death of anyone is tragic. The effect of a death involving a young driver &/or passengers in a car accident on communities, friends is devestating: the effect on parents and family, unimaginable.

This week, the father of one child killed on the north coast will meet with NSW Roads Minister, Eric Roozendaal, to press for changes.

Should there be changes? If so, what changes? Are legislative changes enough?

Some possibilities for Provisional licence holders suggested in the media include:
  • restrictions on the number of passengers they can carry.
  • restrictions on night driving (eg curfews)
  • increasing the amount of experience (ie driving hours) before a person can gain a P-Licence.
Legal restrictions already include:
  • a maximum speed limit of 90 km/hr for P1 licence holders
  • zero blood alcohol level when driving
Certainly at P1-level, drivers do not have a great deal of experience. Despite any restrictions it is incredibly easy for any driver to drive any car too fast for the conditions, especially on unfamiliar roads. As licences, and cars, are gained, there is increasing peer pressure for "a drive". Passengers, especially those without licences, could be more inclined to suggest inappropriate behaviours, because they have even fewer skills and understanding of the real processes involved in driving. ie concentration, observation, anticipation, driving to conditions, as well as the coordination of accelerator/brake/clutch.

I believe that some restrictions on the number of passengers (eg not more than 2) could be appropriate. Also appropriate might be suggestions for parents of young drivers, so that they are not left to "fend for themselves" once they have a licence/car; and compulsory group sessions for learner-drivers on the effects and consequences of serious accidents and how to avoid them.

Whatever we, as a society, decide must NOT be based on a "political response" only. Our response must help to create and reinforce parental and community expectations about responsible, careful driving. ... For all our sakes.

The Analyst