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Tuesday 9 January 2007

P-Plate Decision Day

No More Meetings – No More Diversions

Motor Accidents Authority Formally Supports Passenger Restrictions

While the NRMA’s “one strike and you’re out P-Plate proposal” has merit, the RACS (Road Trauma Advisory Committee – NSW) and the PCA have today called on NSW Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal not to be distracted and to focus on the far more important issues of P-Plate passenger and night-time restrictions.


Dr Danny Cass, Chair of the RACS (Road Trauma Advisory Committee – NSW) said: “The evidence supporting passenger and night-time restrictions is overwhelming and unequivocal.   These interventions are pro-active, not reactive.  A car full of teenagers, late at night, being driven by a young inexperienced driver, is simply a recipe for a potential disaster.  The data is indisputable.


The Chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, Harold Scruby said: "We have been calling for these interventions for nearly 3 years.  And all the Government has done is call more meetings.  In the meantime scores of young lives have been lost.  But now, the Motor Accidents Authority has formally supported Passenger Restrictions (amongst other interventions) and produced the data to support their recommendations (see copy attached).


“The MAA has recommended (QUOTE): ‘Introduce Passenger Restrictions for P1 drivers. This measure would be a major change to the current system and likely to be controversial and unpopular with young people. It raises social equity issues of mobility and access, difficulties for compliance and the potential for increasing or decreasing the number of young people driving. However, the potential road safety benefits are considered to outweigh the impact of the proposed change.

Dr Cass and Mr Scruby said:  “We call on Minister Roozendaal to finish today’s P-Plate Panel meeting showing real leadership, with a decision to introduce P-Plate passenger and night-time restrictions - and not wait until after the elections.  Further delays will result in more deaths and severe disabilities.



Contact:  Dr Danny Cass  - (0417) 695-030

Contact:  Harold Scruby  - (0418) 110-011



Motor Accidents Authority


NSW Government Young Driver Advisory Group


The MAA is pleased to be a member of the NSW Government Young Driver Advisory Group. This committee was set up by the Minister for Roads because of the big increase in new drivers involved in car accidents in 2006. It will make recommendations to the Government about ways to improve to improve road safety for young people.


The MAA has prepared a paper for the committee with suggestions for them to consider.


Proposals for Consideration




1.1 The role of the Motor Accident Authority


The MAA administers the NSW Compulsory Third Party Insurance Scheme and collects data on the profile of injuries and causes of motor vehicle crashes that generate CTP claims.


This data demonstrates that young people are disproportionately involved as injury victims of crashes and disproportionately involved as drivers of vehicles which are the primary cause of crashes leading to CTP claims.


This impacts upon CTP premiums and also provides a clear focus for the MAA's road safety activity.


1.2 CTP Claims Data Analysis


Young people injured in a motor vehicle crash:   



% of population

% of CTP claimants.




21 to 25








ABS, reported in RTA 2004 Statistical Statement

MAA Claims Register data, New scheme, as at September 2006


Young people are predominantly injured as drivers or passengers. As the CTP scheme is fault based this data does not include people who injure themselves in motor vehicle crashes.


Young people as the driver at fault in CTP claims:


Age of driver at fault

% of licence holders

% of at fault drivers




21 to 25







Source: MAA Claims Register data, New Scheme, as at September 2006 (claims against privately owned standard motor cars)

The youngest drivers are more likely to have injured passengers in their own vehicle.

Cost of claims:  


Age of driver at fault

Average cost of claims






Source: MAA Claims Register data, New Scheme, as at September 2006 (claims against privately owned standard motor cars)


Whilst the claim cost of passengers in the vehicle at-fault is always higher than that of passengers in other vehicles, the difference is much more pronounced where the driver is under 26 years. The proportion of claims involving catastrophic injury (spinal cord injury and brain injury) is also significantly higher for under 25's.


1.3 Impact on premiums


As the scheme is compulsory, there is an obligation to ensure the affordability of premiums for all vehicle owners. For this reason the scheme has caps on the maximum amount payable by any one policy holder. For example the maximum amount payable at present for a class 1 vehicle (sedans etc) in the metropolitan zone is just under $600. It is acknowledged that the maximum premium is inadequate for the high risk market segment, in particular, owners and drivers aged 25 or under. Accordingly, the Scheme has maintained a community rating which creates cross subsidies through low risk groups paying additional premiums to provide a lower cost for high risk groups.


1.4 MAA Road Safety Strategy


The MAA has a statutory responsibility to fund activities to prevent or minimise injuries from motor vehicle accidents and to provide road safety education. The MAA's road safety strategy recognises that the RTA is the lead agency for road safety in NSW and the MAA is a key partner, collaborating with the RTA and other agencies in cross sectoral initiatives. Within the framework of Road Safety 2010, the MAA targets those areas that are of particular high cost to the CTP scheme. The priority areas are young people, children, pedestrians and motorcyclists.


Promoting road safety to young people has been delivered through the Arrive alive program which targets 17-25 year olds. This program, which has been running since 2000, promotes road safety awareness to young people through activities in which young people are involved and includes sport, music and arts. Most of these activities are promoted on the MAA's youth website www.arrivealive.com.au. On average the website receives up to 16,000 visits each month. The MAA encourages young people themselves to address local road safety issues. Part of the Arrive alive program includes $200,000 per annum to a grants program whereby young people can apply for a grant to promote road safety in their own area using diverse media of their choice. Funded initiatives have included short films, music video clips, themed activities, and local information and awareness campaigns.


1.5 Focusing on young people


Young people are over-represented in motor vehicle crashes for a range of factors including a combination of inexperience and risk taking behaviour. This behaviour would appear to be a product of higher levels of risk tolerance in young people shown across a range of activities of which driving is just one, and poorer ability to assess risk.


For this reason Government initiatives have focussed upon increasing level of experience of new drivers through the Graduated Licensing Scheme and addressing risk taking through additional limitations upon young drivers.


While 2006 has been a very poor year in relation to P-plate involvement in road fatalities, generally the Graduated Licensing Scheme and other road safety initiatives are delivering improvement in road safety for young people. For example while still overrepresented in road crashes, the injury rate for young people reduced from 970 per 100,000 population in 2001 to 819 in 2004.


The following suggestions are raised for consideration by the working party. The MAA does not propose that all of these be adopted, neither should it constitute a shopping list approach to reforms, rather all or some of these proposals taken in conjunction with the changes already underway need to form a coherent road safety program for young people. The MAA looks forward to working with other stakeholders to deliver this program.



2.1 Increase the minimum tenure period for a Learner Licence from 6 months to 12 months for drivers and extend the validity of the Learner Licence from three to five years.


This measure has been foreshadowed by the RTA and is supported by the MAA. It is considered critical given the proposed requirement for 120 hours of supervised driving in the learner stage.


The extension of the validity of the Learner licence from three to five years would allow more time for supervised practice and reduce the pressure on a Learner driver to obtain a Provisional licence before being ready.


2.2 Increase the period on P2 licence from 2 to 3 years


This measure is to be adopted in Victoria from July 2007. One advantage of this measure is that young drivers would be restricted to driving at a lower speed for an additional twelve months.


In addition a 1 year P1 licence and 3 year P2 licence would extend the total probationary period, and zero blood alcohol limit, from three years to four years for young drivers.


2.3 Provide that motorbike learners are required to hold a car provisional licence for 12 months prior to gaining a motorbike learners licence


This measure is to be adopted in Queensland from July 2007. Motorcycle riders are vulnerable road users and riding a motorbike requires additional and different skills. This measure may mean that young people would be more mature and possibly more experienced by the time they obtain a motorbike licence.


2.4 Introduce Passenger Restrictions for P1 drivers


This measure would be a major change to the current system and likely to be controversial and unpopular with young people. It raises social equity issues of mobility and access, difficulties for compliance and the potential for increasing or decreasing the number of young people driving.


However, the potential road safety benefits are considered to outweigh the impact of the proposed change.


Rationale for proposal


Research shows that carrying multiple passengers significantly increases the risk of an inexperienced driver crashing. Multiple passengers, in particular a group of alcohol affected peer passengers, pose a dangerous distraction for an inexperienced driver. Multiple peer passengers can also directly and indirectly encourage more risk taking behaviour.


The current 2006 increase in P plate involvement in crashes includes a substantial number of crashes involving multiple passengers. These crashes typically happen late at night, on high speed roads and are often single vehicle accidents. RTA data indicate that around two-thirds of fatalities from P Plate crashes are occupants of the P Plate vehicle.


CTP data indicate that the youngest drivers are more likely to have injured passengers in their own vehicle compared to other age groups, and whilst the claim cost of passengers in the vehicle at-fault is always higher than that of passengers in other vehicles, the difference is much more pronounced where the driver was under 26 years.


Overall, research suggests passenger restrictions would reduce young driver crashes even though restrictions in individual states and countries vary. Internationally, restrictions are in place in 27 US states and have generally resulted in road safety benefits. In New Zealand, passenger restrictions were followed by a 9% reduction in crashes for the target group.


Passenger restrictions for all P1 drivers are to be introduced in Queensland and Western Australia from mid 2007. Restrictions are already in place in NSW and Victoria for young drivers who lose their licence for driving offences.


Passenger restrictions would assist parents wishing to restrict their newly licensed young drivers from carrying passengers as it would be the law.


Options for restrictions


Queensland Government will introduce peer passenger restrictions from mid 2007. P1 drivers aged under 25 will be restricted to carrying one passenger aged under 21 from 11pm to 5am. Exemptions apply.


Western Australia Road Safety Council proposals for passenger restrictions will be introduced from mid 2007. During the first six months of their provisional period, novice drivers will be limited from carrying passengers under the age of 25 years. People can be exempt if the passenger is the driver's dependent, sibling, spouse or a person acting as the legal guardian.


NSW model (2004) previously proposed the introduction of a limit of no more than one passenger for P1 drivers aged under 26. This could apply on a 24 hour, seven day a week basis or at traditional high-risk times such as Friday and Saturday nights. The initiative could be introduced for all P1 drivers aged under 26 or only for P1 drivers aged under 26 who have occurred demerit points. There would need to be appropriate exemptions, such as for family responsibilities.


The MAA proposes peer passenger restrictions to limit P1 provisional licence holders to one passenger aged under 21 from 11pm to 5 am.


An effective and workable exemptions system would need to be put in place to make allowances for work, educational and family purposes.


2.5 Consider other proposals to reduce driver distraction for young drivers, including prohibiting all mobile phone use for learner and provisional drivers


Distractions increase mental workload which impairs the ability of drivers to detect changes in the environment, increasing the chance of a crash.


Mobile phone use, both hands free and hand held, considerably increases crash risk. Research shows that distracting devices such as mobile phones have a greater impact on novice drivers. They spend less time looking at the road and have more lateral displacement of the vehicle when using a phone. Research also shows that anticipation of hazards is also delayed when talking on a mobile phone.


The distraction of mobile phone use for inexperienced drivers poses a serious safety risk, given their hazard perception skills are not well developed.


Victoria and Queensland are introducing bans on all mobile phone use for learner and P1 drivers from mid 2007.




3.1 The MAA proposes that the RTA investigate a community based volunteer supervisor and mentoring program to provide opportunities for disadvantaged young people to get driving experience


The MAA supports the proposal to extend the hours of supervised driving required to obtain a provisional licence. However, it is likely that some young people will find it difficult to get 120 hours of supervised experience, and some learners may find it difficult to access a car or a person to supervise them. The proposal therefore raises significant equity issues. The MAA believes that this may be addressed by introducing a community-based volunteer supervisor and mentoring program which would provide opportunities for disadvantaged young people to get driving experience.


The Victorian Government is proposing to conduct such a trial program which if successful will be extended throughout Victoria.


The MAA has previously worked with NRMA Insurance and NRMA Motoring Services in promoting messages aimed at parents of young drivers, including an advertising campaign "practice helps your children survive". The MAA believes that there is scope for further work in this area and would be prepared to consider funding to help establish a community volunteer program.


3.2 Suggest RTA investigate ways to enhance current parent education workshops to raise awareness of key risks and personal safety strategies to manage risks


The RTA already has parent education workshops covering aspects of driver training in place state-wide. Opportunities to improve the workshops and promote them with parents may be worthwhile. Research demonstrates that parents who model good behaviour and take the effort to understand the elements needed to train good drivers can significantly improve the driving record of their children.


The Victorian Government is proposing to produce a Special P1 Solo Driving Guide to encourage compliance with licence restrictions and practical safety information 


Information to support these proposals has been sourced in part from the following documents:


- Improving Safety for Young Drivers options paper, RTA, 2004

- Licensing and Driver Education in New South Wales, RTA presentation, 2006

- P Plate Driver Crashes, RTA presentation, 2006

- Victorian Young Driver Safety and Graduated Licencing Discussion paper, August 2005

- Queensland Youth on the Road and in Control Discussion paper, October 2005


Web-link: http://www.arrivealive.com.au/content.php/1208.html








For more information see:



P-Plate Inaction Will Cost More Young Lives - Call for Urgent Action -  Not Meetings

Tuesday 19 December 2006 - click here: