With the annual Schoolies pilgrimage set to get under way next week and Queensland’s road toll bordering on a 12-year high, concerns about the skill levels of P-Plate drivers have again been raised.
In a recent survey conducted by low-cost car insurance provider Budget Direct, Sunshine Coast residents were asked if P-Plate drivers should be supervised by an open licence holder when night driving in 100km/h speed zones, and 46% of respondents said ‘Yes’.
Budget Direct spokesperson Richelle Ward said she was not surprised by the results and agrees that many P-Plate drivers don’t yet have the necessary skills to drive at high speeds at night.
“The survey revealed 28% of people believe P-Plate drivers should be supervised because they haven’t yet properly developed their skills, with a further 18% believing it best to be on the safe side and to reduce the risk to other motorists,” Ms Ward said.
“These findings were consistent in other regional areas with 49% of Toowoomba residents believing P-Plate drivers should be supervised, and over half in Mackay at 58%”.
While a large number of people were cautious about P-Plate drivers, the Budget Direct survey found 39% of Sunshine Coast respondents felt that supervision wasn’t required, if drivers can demonstrate a high competency in night driving.
“A motorist required to display P-Plates means that the driver is still learning and gaining the skills to be a competent driver, that’s why we have them in the first place”, Ms Ward said.
“Driving at high speeds on a country road is completely different to city driving and at times can be more dangerous. Running off the road and hitting a tree can be absolutely devastating and it’s this type of accident we desperately want to avoid.
“In New South Wales, the P-Plate system is structured into two levels to allow drivers to safely gain the necessary experience. The first level restricts drivers to 90km/h for the first 18 months and carries with it other limitations such as a passenger limit and a towing capacity, while the second stage limits drivers to 100km/h for the next 24 months along with other measures.
“Our road toll for 2009 is on-track to be our worst in 12 years, so maybe it’s time Queensland looked at adopting a similar system,” Ms Ward said.
With Schoolies set to begin on November 21 and many young school leavers having to travel long distances to join in the revelry, the question of the safety and experience levels of young drivers has risen in awareness.
Ms Ward said such concerns over the safety of young motorists is well founded, with statistics from a Department of Transport and Main Roads review showing a large proportion of fatal accidents over the 2008/09 Christmas period involved P-Plate drivers.
“Last year in Queensland 25 percent of the total fatalities were 17-20 year old drivers, which is an alarmingly high proportion.
“Other research shows that young drivers under 25 are overrepresented in road crashes, being up to four times more likely to die.
“While young drivers have to pass stringent tests in order to get their provisional licences, they need to remember that their responsibility to be alert and aware continues every time they get behind the wheel”.
About Budget Direct
Budget Direct is fast approaching ten years in operation as one of Australia's leading insurance providers.
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