P-platers state wide in NSW (editors note: QLD drivers are also affected by a new set of laws previously discussed here) will now have to abide by new laws which came into effect as of today. These new laws have been highly debated due to their illogical and strict nature.
1. Licence suspension for any speeding offence for P1 drivers and provisional riders.
There are no longer second chances for P1 (Red) license holders. For their first year of driving, any speeding offense will hold a 4 demerit point penalty and result in the suspension of their driver’s license for a minimum of 3 months. Many say this is a harsh but fair rule, however many P-platers already think they are invincible and this law may create a ‘nothing to lose’ mentality among young driver’s.
2. A ban on all mobile phone use for learner, P1 drivers and provisional riders.
To clarify, this new law prohibits any form of mobile phone use for driver’s, carrying a penalty of 3 points and a fine. Hands-free mobile use does not differ from a conversation with a passenger or singing along with the radio, however for a year, it is understandable to ask of P1 driver’s to pull over to have a conversation.
3. Peer passenger restrictions for P1 drivers.
This is where it begins to become ridiculous, P1 driver’s under the age of 25 may no longer carry more than one passenger under the age of 25 between 11pm and 5am. This completely conflicts with previous campaign’s to arrange for a designated driver or car pool. The only outcome of the enforcement of this law will be more P-plater’s on the road between these most vulnerable hours. Worse still, if caught breaking this new law, the driver will not only be fined but the excess occupants will be required to get out where ever they may happen to be – remember these are people deemed incapable of being a passenger in a vehicle, and now they are expected to find their own way home between the early hours of the morning. Hopefully police will have the common sense not to enforce this law where it would otherwise prove dangerous for the excess occupants.
4. Changes to the display of L and P plates on vehicles.
This is where I get frustrated. P-plate driver’s are now required to display their plates on the outside of the vehicle next to the number plate. What many people don’t understand is how difficult it is to ensure there is always a plate on display. From my own experience even cable-ties fail to prevent these plates from being stolen, and now with these new laws, it is just more of an incentive for the ex-girlfriend to rip of your plates and cross her fingers. The fact that the enforcement of this law can be effected by a guilty third party automatically denies its application in my opinion. It is just too easy for somebody to walk by and help themselves to a plate leaving you with two demerit points and a fine.
5. Increased licence term and supervised driving hours for learner drivers.
The definition of a band-aid solution. The fact is many parents do not want to go through 120 hours of supervised driving, worse still is that when it comes to road rules most parents are just as clueless as their children. Since an adolescent can acquire their license whilst they are still at school, then they should be taught how to drive through school. It seems like the most logical solution.
On a side-note, maximum speed limits for provisional driver’s should be lifted. Forcing a driver to go 90 in a 100 zone is in no way safe for other driver’s on the road or the driver themselves. It only serves to force cars and trucks to overtake which at those speeds is far more dangerous than allowing the provisional driver to travel the posted speed limit.