Parramatta Sun - Wednesday 2 May, 2007

L-plate revamp

By Natalie Oliveri
The Pedestrian Council of Australia has called for an overhaul of NSW road rules to lessen the number of inexperienced drivers behind the wheel.

NSW's rules would be similar to those in Victoria, under the proposed changes, the chairman of the council, Harold Scruby, said.

Drivers on their L-plates would have to complete 12 hours of mandatory on-road training, with a qualified driving instructor, to be taken immediately after a person gained a learner's licence.

This would ensure drivers were trained correctly according to the road rules, Mr Scruby said.

An L-plater was involved in a fatal accident at Kogarah in March. The woman's car ran into a group of pedestrians waiting for a bus, killing a teenage girl.

One of the driver's relatives, from Granville, said the woman had not stopped crying since the accident.

''[She] won't talk to anyone and if you ask her [about the crash] she will cry,'' the relative said.

''She said, 'Now what can I do with my life?'.'' Her life had been turned upside down, the relative said.

Defensive driving courses should be essential for all
new learner drivers, according to instructor Ian Luff.
Mr Luff runs a driving school at Oran Park and has
backed the Pedestrian Council's call for more driver
training. Picture: Angelo Velardo
Mr Scruby believes it is essential that new drivers receive proper tuition when taking to the road for the first time.

''These 12 hours with a qualified instructor would give drivers the basic training for all road conditions,'' Mr Scruby said.

''The very first period of them being inside a car would be with the instructor who has dual control, in case anything went wrong.''

Many drivers initially learnt the road rules from their parents, he said.

''Ninety-five per cent of those parents would have got their licence before the new Australian road rules came into effect in 1999.

''It's absurd, these parents are teaching bad habits.''

The RTA recently announced tougher driving tests for learner drivers, including a rise in supervised driving hours from 50 to 120; a minimum of one year on a learner licence; 20 hours of supervised night driving and a longer computer test.

But Mr Scruby said the mandatory 120 hours was an ''utter farce''.

''It is so easy to forge these hours. There must be a system that is not so open to fraud someone needs to be checking on that.''

Under the changes proposed by the council, drivers would hold their learners' licence for two years from the ages of 16 and would move to to a provisional licence at the age of 18. At 21, drivers would be eligible for a full licence.

''The aged must be raised to 18 [for a provisional licence]. You can't vote until you're 18, can't go to war until you're 18 but you can drive a lethal weapon as a child.

''You must be a full adult before you take control of a killing machine that kills the most Australians per year.''
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