The Sunday Times - Wednesday 14 June, 2006

Tough new rules for P-platers (Curfews)

By Joe Spagnolo

YOUNG drivers will not be able to drive unsupervised at night for six months after getting their licence as part of radical new measures to save lives on WA roads.

And they won't be able to have had any alcohol while driving a car - neither will their parents or supervisors travelling with them.

In this week's State Budget, the Government announced it would introduce a range of controversial measures mooted by the Road Safety Council early last year.

Police Minister John Kobelke told The Sunday Times yesterday that most of the council's nine recommendations had been accepted by the Government and the new laws would come into effect on July 1 next year.

Under the new laws, novice drivers will also be prohibited from carrying more than one person of the same age at any one time in the first six months of their probationary period.

P-platers would have to accumulate only four demerit points, not 12, in their first year to lose their licences, and learners permits would be valid for three years instead of one.

Police, parents and the Road Safety Council yesterday welcomed the laws, which are being described as among the toughest in the world.

Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said too many young people were dying on WA roads and he was confident the measures would save lives.

He was particularly pleased with new laws restricting peer passengers and night driving and said police might have to seek changes to legislation that would force passengers in cars driven by novices to provide proof of age.

"We can't just walk up to people at the moment and say, `What's your age?'. We may need legislation to change that, but we have plenty of time to think about those changes," he said.

For Peter and Wilma Daniels, of Collie, the laws have come too late to save their son Lee, 16, who died when a car in which he was a passenger - driven by a teenager - crashed four years ago.

Mr Daniels has spent the past few years lobbying the Government for change, particularly for peer passenger restrictions.

"Nothing will bring Lee back, but if this being in place saves one life, this is huge," Mrs Daniels said.

"Peter has been lobbying since Lee's death. A TV reporter once said maybe this could be called Lee's Law, and that would be nice if it happened. We still have a feeling of hopelessness because our son would still be here today. He would have been 21 this September.''

Road Safety Council spokesman Grant Dorrington said yesterday that though he was buoyed by the new laws, he was disappointed that the Government had not implemented a recommendation to increase the minimum number of required supervised and logged driving hours from 25 to 120.

Mr Kobelke said the Government would promote the recommendation through a comprehensive community education campaign .

"The Government will also consider how to resolve a range of practical matters before making it mandatory," Mr Kobelke said.

He said the recommendation to extend the P-plate period from two to three years was not approved by the Government.
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