The Daily Telegraph – Thursday 16 December 2004


Change approach to turn corner on safety -
Learn what to expect on the road, not parents' bad habits, to stay alive


“DON'T turn our young motorists into Formula One drivers” was the key message from a national road safety forum in Canberra yesterday.

Motoring experts and politicians yesterday debated what informative driver training would entail and whether or not they could change the culture of P-platers' habits on our roads.

Everyone realised the issue of saving lives was not a new concept but some did not agree with the driver education on offer and others said it was not possible to change bad habits.

Australian motor sport legend Peter Brock told the Protecting Lives on our Roads forum that both aims could be achieved.

Brock said driving culture changed when seatbelts were introduced, along with the tougher enforcements on drink-drivers.

“But we don't need to create racing car drivers,” Brock said.

“I regard a good driver [as one] that fits into the world around them and one that works out what the right speed is, to do with the conditions.” Instead of learning how to stop in a skid, Brock said young drivers need to know how to negotiate corners.

“There seems to be a lot of 19-year-old girls driving Hyundai Excels, going at excessive speeds on roundabouts,” the driving legend said.

Brock was concerned about where these sorts of motorists were getting their driving habits from.

“We allow parents to set the agenda -- if parents suffer a lack of information then so do our drivers,” he said.

“Young people are pretty smart and we can't underestimate that.

“They know how to build fast cars that look innocuous.

“We need to equip them with broader education -- including driving diligence, knowledge of cars, road and hand-eye co-ordination.” Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson called on the NSW and Victorian governments to play a role in the steering committee for the Federal Government's $5 million special driving course, which 14,000 young drivers in both states would take next year.

The course aims to provide novice drivers with an understanding of their own limitations and how they can reduce the risk they face on the roads.

“Today is a very genuine attempt to extend the debate by putting on the table as many options as possible,” Mr Anderson said.

NSW Roads Minister Carl Scully reiterated that he had spoken to a number of young drivers in the past few weeks and “freedom” was the most important thing to them.

Mr Scully said the death toll on NSW roads could be the lowest on record but there was no room for complacency.

“The job will never be finished,” he said, adding that there would be no problems finding 7000 NSW P-platers to take the voluntary trial.


“Young drivers welcome more education and training,” Mr Scully said.


“I'd be astonished if we have a problem [getting the numbers].


“And I see this being rolled out when the pilot's finished in a couple of years as a compulsory component of young drivers going for their Ls through to their full licence.”

Mr Scully also announced tough restrictions in NSW on new drivers having high-performance cars.

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