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Tougher rules for young drivers

Since 1 December 2016, P-plate licence holders in NSW are banned from using mobile phones at all while driving.

Just under a fifth of road deaths are young Australian drivers 17-25 even though they make up just over a tenth of the driving population. New P-plate drivers die at twice the rate of all drivers, although they are only a tenth of all drivers.

Two decades of rules

In the last 20 years, the NSW government has added a swathe of new regulations for young drivers:

  • Zero alcohol
  • Allowing only one passenger between 11pm and 5am
  • Losing your licence for at least 3 months for any speeding offence
  • Bans on driving certain high-performance vehicles
  • 120 hours of supervised driving to graduate from L-plates to P-plates.

Driving basics

In a 2015 Ford survey of teenagers 16-19, 61% said their parents or supervising driver struggled to teach them driving basics, such as parallel parking or merging. Ford’s Driving Skills For Life program, for example, started in 2003 for young drivers to cover what driving lessons don’t. Among other technologies, Its MyKey teen safety allows vehicle owners to program a key, which limits the vehicle’s top speed and audio volume to less than half of the maximum.

Ford research has identified four elements – hazard recognition, vehicle handling, distracted and impaired driving, space and speed management – where young drivers (and perhaps their parents) lack skills and education.

The higher road toll in NSW is not entirely because of young drivers.

Not just young drivers

While the number of people 17-25 involved in fatal car accidents was 78 in 2016 (up from 55 in 2015), it was 169 in 2000. In 2016, the highest number of deaths (104) were among 40-59 year olds, not young people. Most of all road deaths were in rural and regional areas.

The most common factors in all fatal accidents are drugs and alcohol, speed, fatigue and distraction. Distraction is an interesting topic that needs more attention in a distracted world!

For example, you must be legally sober to supervise someone’s driving but you are allowed to text while they drive. This sends a message you can use your phone in the car. Moreover, from a young age, most kids see their parents using a mobile everywhere, including in the car even if they are not driving.

Manage distractions

It would be possible to ban full licence holders from using phones while supervising L-plate drivers. Or to ban phone use in the car completely. But this would irritate a lot of people and not necessarily fix the problem. Rather than try to get rid of all distractions, perhaps drivers of all ages should learn to deal better with distractions while driving.

Young drivers pay disproportionately high prices for green slips because of the perceived high risk. This can make driving very expensive for them or their families if the vehicle is shared. Get the best prices for your green slip.

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Corrina Baird

Writer and Researcher, greenslips.com.au

Corrina used to lend her car to her kids and discovered what Ls, Ps and demerits mean for greenslips. After 20 years in financial services and over 9 years with greenslips.com.au, she’s an expert in the NSW CTP scheme. Read more about Corrina

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