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by Tim Beissmann

Learner drivers in New South Wales will be able to reduce the number of practice hours they are required to complete by taking part in a new safe driver course.

NSW roads minister Duncan Gay today announced young drivers who completed the program would have their learner log book requirements cut from 120 hours to 100 hours.

Gay said the program was designed to reward young people for attempting to become safer drivers.

He explained the first step in the development of the course would be to establish a board of independent road safety experts and an advisory panel who would make recommendations for its design and content.

Representatives from the NSW Department of Transport, Roads and Maritime Services, NSW Police, NRMA Motoring and Service, and members of other interest groups will be consulted during the development phase, with an initial report due within six months.

Gay said the most recent road safety research and evidence from around the world would be considered from the outset to ensure an effective course is designed.

The program is expected to comprise a combination of classroom and in-vehicle activities with a focus on driver attitude and safe driving behaviour.

The course could potentially reduce the time learners are required to spend behind the wheel to as little as 80 hours if the government gives approval for the existing three-for-one professional driver instruction scheme to run in tandem. Under the current rules, one hour of driver training with a professional driving instructor counts for three log book hours, up to a maximum of 10 hours of lessons and 30 log book hours.

“This will in turn help those young drivers who have difficulty reaching 120 hours of driving instruction before they are eligible for their provisional licence,” Gay said.

The government will also look at other options to help learner drivers in remote, lower socio-economic and Aboriginal communities meet their log book requirements.

Currently, learner drivers under the age of 25 in NSW are required to complete a minimum of 120 of driving practice in a wide range of conditions before being eligible to sit their provisional driver licence test. Drivers 25 and over are exempt from the log book program.




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