Less than one month (July 2007) remains between new Queensland drivers and the new draconian P plate restriction laws set to destabilize the transport system in QLD.
All the details regarding the laws can be found here, this is has been discussed countless times before on Car Advice and all of us agree that the new laws will send QLD into the dark age. However, we only realised this morning just how bad the new laws really are.
QLD transport sent out a letter to all those affected last week and the first word reads "Tragically", which is ironic, because the laws are truly a tragic event for new QLD drivers.
All new learners will need to conduct 100 hours of driving prior to booking their practical test. This is great, in theory, but here is the problem. Firstly, driving with a driving instructor (credited - from a school) will count 1 hour as 3 hours, (maximum of 10 hours), so that means, if you do 10 hours with an instructor, it will count for 30 hours. So you still have another 70 hours to go.
For those lucky enough to have access to a family car, this shouldn't be too hard, after all, how hard would it be to convince parents to "sign" the log book confirming your hours? For those who don't have access to a car, 80 hours of paid driving is a massive amount. Specially given it will cost you $45/hr. So roughly $3,600 to gain the hours.
Some argue that it is necessary for the well being of young drivers to undergo this many hours, and we agree. It is crucial for young drivers to gain as much experience prior to driving solo. However there is a better way.
QLD transport are in denial. They have refused to admit that Driving Courses will help young drivers become better drivers. They have done this by snubbing the driving training centers with the new laws. While it will cost you roughly $45/hr for a lesson with a driving instructor, it will cost you around $250 for an advanced driving course (whole day).
So if an hour with a driving instructor will count as three hours (to a maximum of 10 hours), how many hours will you be credited for attending an Advanced Driver Training Course? None! Brilliant.
QLD's most recognized driver training centre is SDT, Safe Driving Training. The company's manager Joel Nielsen is not at all happy being snubbed,
"This is a slap in the face to defensive driving courses, we are not necessarily asking for the same triple-credit deal as driving schools but surely an hour spent learning emergency car handling procedures in the safety of a supervised training facility should be credited to logbook hours." Mr Nielson said
Of course QLD transport were fully aware this issue would arise, so they've worked hard to come up with an excuse as to why learning how to handle a vehicle in an emergency situation is not useful to new drivers. Queensland Transport young driver project team spokeswoman Linda McIntyre said the new laws were to :
"encourage young drivers to interact with and be exposed to a range of traffic, road, and weather conditions. Therefore, supervised driving undertaken in an artificial driving environment , such as a driver trainer centre-facility will not count towards the completion of the 100-hour driving experience requirement."
Again, absolutely brilliant. From all of us at Car Advice we would like to congratulate Mrs McIntyre for winning the 2007 Absolute Rubbish award. Seriously though, it must take a lot of courage to label advanced driving courses as having no benefit to young drivers.
The problem doesn't stop there, Mrs McIntyre will have to share her award with RACQ who have also jumped on the bandwagon, supporting QLD Transport's stance on driver training.
"We do not believe that off-road training, especially that most commonly described as advanced driver training is an appropriate form of driver education for learners. At worst, such training could, in fact, encourage even greater risk-taking behaviour in younger male drivers, in particular," RACQ exsternal affairs general manager Gary Fites
Its obvious that RACQ and QLD transport do not understand the most important and basic principle of human behaviour. Knowledge is power. The idea behind driver training is to teach young (and old) drivers how to control their vehicle in an emergency situation. RACQ believes it is better for drivers to be unskilled in an emergency situation in case they take advantage of their new found confidence.
We have mentioned before how QLD transport hates car enthusiasts and this again comes through here. The comment regarding "off-road training" is nonsense. It seems that no one from RACQ or QLD transport has ever visited Mt Cotton driver training centre (which is government owned!). The idea behind the centre is to familiarize drivers to a whole range of driving conditions that may occur on actual roads.
In other words, RACQ believes its better that drivers experience an out of control vehicle on the road for the first time, (and most likely the last time) as oppose to in a safe training environment. Thank you RACQ for simply bowing down and following QLD transport's lead.
While QLD's road toll continues to grow and campaign 300 fails, miserably, QLD transport (and now RACQ) fail to see the bigger problem. RACQ's argument follows the same thought pattern of "If we teach our children different political ideas, they might use it against us" - After all, all under 25s are hoons and a menace on the road? We might as well just ban all under 25s from driving?
Recently, BMW put its weight behind Driver Training. BMW's own research has shown that drivers going through the driver training program are far less likely to crash. Dr Draeger who is in charge of the BMW driver training says:
“Governments should make it compulsory to go through driver training schools”
Now here is BMW and the majority of the motoring world in one side yelling and screaming (and even begging) to make driver training compulsary for all new drivers, and on the other side you have QLD transport and now RACQ who discourage training.
Our hearts and minds are with those affected by these new laws. Let us be the first to say, there is absolutely no merit for improving road safety in these laws, it is a simple band aid solution to a problem which requires MORE education for younger drivers, a system which should force drivers to undergo driving training - not discourage them!