Sydney Morning Herald - Monday 29 November 2004
Driver curbs a family affair

By Joseph Kerr and Anne Davies

Family support will underpin tough new rules targeting provisional drivers, the Premier said yesterday, amid discussions over measures including curfews and limits on the number of passengers P-platers can carry.

In response to the recent spate of fatal road accidents involving younger drivers, the Government is expected to release a discussion paper today on measures to cut the road toll.

Bob Carr said:

"Sure we've been criticised for not moving overnight, but if you are changing something that is as basic to our way of life, such as the circumstances of how thousands of people drive, you've got to carry the support of families with you.

"The changes will, by and large, work because they will be implemented by families as they guide young people driving for the first time."

The Government took "very seriously" suggestions for restricting the access of young drivers to high-powered motor vehicles, although his Roads Minister, Carl Scully, expressed reservations about that approach last week.

"That's likely to be supported in the public discussion that follows release of the discussion paper," Mr Carr said .

Other options include increasing young driver training and imposing extra licence conditions, although Mr Carr was wary of imposing a night curfew on youngsters working part-time to pay their way through university.

The president of the NRMA, Ross Turnbull, said some of the 50 young people at a forum in Orange yesterday raised concerns about the idea of restricting the access of young drivers to powerful vehicles.

"Young people in the bush often need bigger cars because of the amount of driving they have to do," he said.

The idea of restricting the number of passengers that could be carried by young drivers could interfere with designated driver systems.

The chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, Harold Scruby, said NSW should adopt the Victorian practice of restricting young drivers to less powerful vehicles and setting the minimum age for P-platers at 18 rather than 17. "Seventeen-year-olds are still children," said Mr Scruby, who supports restrictions on the number of passengers.

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Daily Telegraph - Monday 29 November 2004


Vision to fix P-Plate crisis

YOUNG motorists face tougher driving tests and will have to stay on their Learner and Provisional licences longer under proposals aimed at stopping the youth carnage on the state's roads.

The State Government's long-awaited discussion paper on young drivers obtained by The Daily Telegraph and to be released by Roads Minister Carl Scully today contains 11 proposals to curb the youth road toll.

Among them are all the demands campaigned for by The Daily Telegraph.

P-plate motorists under 26 will be banned from driving high-powered and heavy vehicles, while P1 holders or those to have incurred demerit points will be restricted to one passenger at a time.

High schools will also play a greater role in teaching young drivers through a standardised driver education course.

The eagerly-awaited news came as young drivers from Sydney to Newcastle yesterday paid their respects in a Rememberance Cruise to Natasha Schyf, Carl Homer and Emile Dousset killed after their Nissan Skyline R34 GTR crashed in to a telegraph pole in Wyoming last Monday.

The horrific crash was the first in a string of P-plate accidents that left another four youngsters in hospital with serious injuries.

Other initiatives to be released today for public consultation include:

Doubling the mandatory period of supervised driving for Learner drivers from 50 hours to 100 hours

Doubling the minimum time spent on L plates to 12 months, and increasing the Provisional Licence age to 18

Improving the Driving Ability Road Test (from Ls to Ps) with a greater focus on hazard perception and safe driving practices

Modifying the demerit point system for Provisional drivers including suspending licences if they exceed their demerit points

A night driving restriction between 10pm and 5am for P1 holders under 26, however exemptions would be available if the driver is heading to and from work, study or for a medical emergency

The Government's discussion paper notes the difficulties in applying and enforcing the curfew, instead, Learner drivers may be required to complete 15 hours of night time supervised driving.

Drivers under 26 make up just 15 per cent of licenced drivers, but are involved in 36 per cent of fatal accidents. On average, a P-plate driver dies in NSW every six days, while another 17 are involved in daily crashes.

Mr Scully yesterday told The Daily Telegraph initiatives will only be introduced if they are "practical, enforceable and broadly supported".

But he said that he was strongly considering limiting novice drivers to one passenger at a time, and restricting young motorists from driving high-powered cars.

Mr Scully yesterday defended the three-month consultation period.

Measures which had the overwhelming support of the community will be implemented "much sooner", he promised.

Still, on current statistics 15 young drivers will be dead and another 1530 involved in crashes by the time public debate ends on February 28.

Mr Scully said the closing date was set at the request of the Commissioner for Young Children and People who wanted to ensure young people had enough time to express their views.

"I want young people to have some ownership of the changes that we ultimately make because I believe that will ensure better observance," Mr Scully said.

Greg Langham, whose 15-year-old daughter Erin was killed in a horrific multiple-fatality crash two years ago, yesterday accused the State Government of "moving too slowly"

"While everyone is talking about what they're going to do, our kids are dying every day," Mr Langham, of Buxton, south of Sydney said.

He said driver education is the most-important initiative that the Government should introduce.

"Schools teach our students sex education in Year 7. They should be teaching them something that may one day save their life."

Mr Langham said his family will live with the loss of Erin for the rest of their lives, and they did not want other families to suffer the same loss.

"It seems every time we pick up the paper there's something in there about a young driver or person killed in a crash. I know what it is like to lose a child, there is no way we'd wish it on anyone."

He said the State Government should consider subsidising the cost of professional driving lessons for novice drivers.

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