The Daily Telegraph - Friday 26 November 2004


Another crash - what will it take

ANOTHER P-plate driver, another high-speed crash in an overpowered car.

Less than 48 hours after three people died in a high-speed P-plate accident on the Central Coast, this young driver and a passenger were rushed to hospital after their Subaru WRX crashed into a dry creekbed at Minchinbury.

It has taken appalling images like this to get the State Government to sit up and take notice. Yet the situation remains unchanged.

The latest accident occurred just after 9pm on Wednesday, on Sargents Rd, Minchinbury, when the car ran off the road and flipped on to its roof.

It had a frightening similarity to the tragic accident on Monday night when a high-powered Nissan Skyline GT-R hit a power pole and split in two, killing all three people inside.

Last night, Roads Minister Carl Scully finally conceded it was time to seriously consider imposing restrictions on high-powered vehicles for young drivers -- a proposal The Daily Telegraph put on the table two months ago.

He said parents should also begin taking a role of responsibility for allowing their children to drive over-powered vehicles.

"I am interested in seriously considering putting restrictions on young drivers in relation to high-powered cars," he said.

"It's something I'm sympathetic to but I want to get feedback from the community. I don't want to do impose something unilaterally.

"And I do think there is a role for parents. Parents and young drivers do have a responsibility when it comes to high speed vehicles."

Mr Scully conceded that there was "some" sympathy among young people for restricted power-to-weight ratio cars for P-platers.

However, the NRMA criticised the Government, saying it had still yet to act to stop the carnage.

"This is the sixth idea floated by the Government in recent months to stop the shocking waste of young lives and comes only days before a discussion paper is released," a spokesperson said.

Similar views were echoed by Rebecca Stanford, who saw three friends die, another needing a body cast and herself in a coma in only seven days during December 1999.

"It's taken the Government five years since my accident to notice young people are dying on our roads," Ms Stanford said.

"And it was only because of The Daily Telegraph's campaign that the Government actually noticed.

"Why couldn't they use the statistics and do the maths themselves to work out that we are killing ourselves on the road. One kid dies every six days -- it's not hard to work out."

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Scully revealed he was working on a plan to make it mandatory for young drivers to take five accredited driver training sessions before they were allowed to obtain a P-plate licence. This plan had received support from young drivers at a series of forums he has hosted.

Mr Scully also revealed that National Party Leader John Anderson and he had agreed to conduct a national driver training trial for young people.

The Daily Telegraph - Friday 26 November 2004




No speed limit on P-plate action

WHAT part of the concept of urgency is it that laid-back Road Minister Carl Scully doesn't comprehend? And what exactly would it take in his world to constitute a genuine emergency?

Faced this week with the horror of three young lives lost -- one of them the P-plate driver of the car -- in a high-speed crash on the Central Coast, Mr Scully's response as reported yesterday was that there was no rush.

"I'm not here to cancel fun," he was reported as saying. He said young people had made it clear to him they did not want to have all their freedoms taken away. And the sympathetic minister quite understands. His message to youngsters was that he was not there to "handcuff" them as they strive to learn about adult responsibilities.

Minister, you need a reality check. Three young people are dead. They died in a high-powered car travelling at lunatic speeds. On Wednesday, there was another crash, again involving a P-plater, again involving a high-powered car. Luckily there were no fatalities but the two young fellows in the car were seriously injured.

Yet you say there's no rush.

Many disagree. The head of the Crash Investigation Branch disagrees. Parents of young motorists disagree. A lot of young drivers also disagree.

They think there is an urgent need for laws to restrict young drivers to cars with limited power. They think there should be a limit on the number of passengers young drivers can carry. They think there is a desperate need for reform. Immediately. Right now.

Minister, if you're still wondering, read today's report about the experiences of the Martin, Langham and Harvey families, who lost loved ones in a car accident two years ago. Their lives have been utterly shattered. Tell them there is no rush and judge their reaction.

Mr Scully, let's get your "discussion paper" out in the open, by all means.

But what we expect from you is leadership. There is a serious problem here and lives are being lost while you sit back and scratch your chin. You've acknowledged the need for action in the past, so let's have no more delay.

Let's have some action -- urgent action.

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