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Government’s proposed P-plate curfew receives backlash as Labor MLA calls curfews discriminatory

Lachlan Roberts 27 July 2018 71

ACT Labor backbencher Chris Steel has called on ACT Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury to rule out curfews for P-plate drivers in the new licensing reforms, saying the proposed midnight-to-5 am curfew would discriminate against young Canberrans.

In a radical overhaul, the ACT Government plans to introduce laws that will only allow P-platers to drive with one passenger aged between 16 and 24 and will not be able to drive between midnight and 5 am during their first 12 months on the road.

Mr Rattenbury said the changes are aimed at saving lives, with 15 young drivers (aged 17-24) killed while driving on ACT roads between 2006 and 2017 – and five of those deaths occurring between midnight and 5 am.

But Mr Steel believes the Government’s proposed curfew on P-plate drivers would make young people “second class citizens.”

“I have heard from many young Canberrans that think that proposed P-plate restrictions unfairly restrict their right to move around our city,” Mr Steel said.

“Young people are standing up against the P-plate licencing changes which discriminate against them and their freedom of movement around our city.”

The Labor MLA said the ACT Government’s Your Plates: What we heard report revealed significant community concern about the proposed introduction of curfews for P-plate license holders.

A Government phone survey of 600 people across the ACT revealed that 50 per cent of people strongly disagreed with the proposed curfew, with only 40 per cent agreeing or strongly agreeing.

“It is a well-known fact that young people go out at night, and we should not restrict them from driving at times when other forms of safe transport are limited,” Mr Steel said.

“We know that it is only a small minority of people that do the wrong thing, but all young drivers would be treated as second-class citizens by a P-plate curfew.”

The government also proposed exemptions to the curfew for people needing to travel to work or school in the early hours, but Mr Steel said that exemptions proposed to the curfew would do little to reduce the discriminatory effect of the reforms, and there were also other drawbacks.

“A curfew exemption scheme would be costly, bureaucratic and confusing for motorists and Police,” said Mr Steel.

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71 Responses to Government’s proposed P-plate curfew receives backlash as Labor MLA calls curfews discriminatory
wottaway 6:03 pm 02 Aug 18

And what age is the Road Safety expert, Mr. Steel, who no doubt has the right to express an opinion on the subject, I just hope he has no influence whatsoever on the final decision. There would also be no age group less qualified to influence this decision than the group supposedly being discriminated against.

    Chris Steel MLA 2:18 pm 05 Aug 18

    I’m not sure that at 32 I can be considered a young person anymore!

bj_ACT 10:52 am 01 Aug 18

What kind of politician prioritises legal restrictions on law obiding young drivers ‘over and above’ creating affective legal restrictions on outlaw motorcycle gangs who are currently running amok in the outer suburbs of canberra?

Redrider 9:05 am 01 Aug 18

Frankly, I see this as a lazy policy response not supported by the evidence. The Minister, if he holds the compelling evidence, should bring us along on his reform journey.

I will add that my look at the available evidence would suggest an emerging trend of older people being involved in injury crashes, and middle aged (mainly males) taking risks that are beyond their reflexes.

I suggest people contact their representatives in the Assembly and make their views known rather than making repetitive posts in forums such as this one.

I hope everyone has a safe day!

    southsiderioter 6:13 pm 02 Aug 18

    If you look at the ACT accident statistics you will also find that just as many accidents happened in areas described as having poor or no street lighting as the number of accidents that involved P plate/young drivers. Simply improving street lighting would have as much an impact on accident statistics as a restrictive poly on younger drivers.

Judith Deland Judith Deland 1:05 am 01 Aug 18

I'd also if I was a young parent on my P's, who found myself unsupported one night by a driver, with a very sick vomiting small child, who I felt needed to go to casualty to be seen by a doctor, I would sooner put them in my own car and drive them. Apart from the cost and inconvenience of a taxi, wouldn't the taxi driver be thrilled at having small children, plus seats, plus illness for what might be a short trip. Plus any siblings too, so I didn't have to leave them unattended. This proposed rule makes no allowance for the fact that young people have many reasons for using a car at night, besides recreation. Work, study, family responsibilities etc. If it comes in, I can imagine any new offences that arise from in it, might be seen as 'a case of being guilty of driving while young'.

g210 8:25 am 31 Jul 18

Some people seem surprised the Greens are running with this idea.
This is the same party who supported the point point and other speed camera systems keeping a record of all vehicles passing by – not just those speeding – thus effectively becoming a government surveillance system.

    chewy14 8:53 am 01 Aug 18

    The Greens are a left wing, authoritarian party. This kind of move is hardly surprising.

Narcobear 6:14 pm 30 Jul 18

The next generation of drivers will rightfully conclude that these new rules are illogical and restrictive, with no possible benefit to their safety as individuals, or to the safety of anyone else.

They will then apply this logic to the other road rules.

Make sensible laws that people can respect, not arbitrary and restrictive laws with no justifiable reasons behind them.

slow claps for the nanny state.

gooterz 5:01 pm 30 Jul 18

1. Teaches kids to break the law.

2. Forces young girls to ride alone with young men at night.
A young male with a licence can transport a number of women. This law will put women’s safety at risk, as they wont be able to ride with extra friends.

    bj_ACT 8:19 pm 30 Jul 18

    I’m afraid that you raise some good points.

    There are so many other dangerous driving problems that are already illegal and not enforced by police. Why add another to the list. Focus on speeding, dangerous driving at intersections and roundabouts.

    But most of all ACT Government, spend your money and effort to get some drug and alcohol testing out on the roads. I haven’t been breath tested in the ACT for years and I do over 25,000km a year.

Judith Deland Judith Deland 11:29 am 29 Jul 18

Discussed this with my young adult kids about their experiences of moving around Canberra (and I'm sure it's the same everywhere). One said she and her brother, along with his girlfriend (all pretty stellar people, definitely living on the right side of the law) were pulled up at 2am for just driving while young. The police man simply wanted to know where they were going, which was to the gym which seemed to be acceptable to him. I don't think middle aged public servants and politicians get pulled up to see where they are going. Daughter says the police slow down to stare at her if she is sitting in the bus stop with her head down reading her phone until they can see who she is. I've never had this experience. One of my kids has a learning disability, and stands out, so we were pretty nervous when he started to get around town by himself. The very first time he walked home, from his teachers after a role playing game, carrying a shoe box of figurines, a police car had to put on it's lights, pull over, and bail him up, just to see what is in the box. Again, I suspect I could walk down a street carrying a box, and not get this response. So young people are already I think in the laws sights, for walking, sitting, and especially driving for being guilty of doing these things while young. To me it is a bit sad that I see the Greens buying into this. I won't be voting for the ACT greens clearly. No doubt they will have lost their young hip image with some young voters too.

    Judith Deland Judith Deland 5:44 am 30 Jul 18

    Also if young people would seem to be over-represented in car accidents, well young people are likely to spend more time on the road going to places which would skew the results. They have more energy, so will go to the gym at 2am, which is why there are 24 hour gyms. Plus socialising etc. I'm sure mostly they are like my kids and very aware of their own and their passenger's safety. After-all the government trusts the care of vulnerable people to one of my kids, after he had a police check. Yet in some circumstances, Mr Rattenbury might want to put restrictions on that same young person, because of their age. Also Mr Rattenbury will effectively be putting any one who looks young in the firing line. The police will probably be pulling over anyone who looks young to see if they have taken off their plates to beat curfew. This is not only going to lead to more negative interactions between police and young looking people on the road, but when we parents hear that our child has been pulled over yet again for no reason other than looking young, we will be quite cross. So Mr Rattenbury if he likes can call out a GREENS WAR ON YOUNG PEOPLE, but he shouldn't be surprised if the young people and their families affected, then see the Greens as the old, rich, disengaged, clueless, boomer party. I would hate to think that lurking somewhere here is the Greens dislike of cars, and a underhand way of forcing young people into other ways of getting around, even at great inconvenience and some loss of safety to young people. Labor is coming out of this looking better.

    Judith Deland Judith Deland 9:56 am 30 Jul 18

    Whoops, forgot about University students who suddenly have to put in a late night at the library. They have to get to a bus, and then maybe have connecting buses to catch if they are available. One of my sons does not drive and is a casual at APH. When parliament is sitting, he sometimes misses the connecting bus, but has the safety net of the parent taxi to pick him up - but sorry kid, no wind down time at the gym, while your parents wait. Other young people may not have that or the money for a taxi. It can also turn a 20 minute drive into a hour and a half trek. The buck for this idea stops with the Minister, who is a Green. It is strange that the Greens will trust young people to nurse them, to work for them, to look after their kids etc. but they won't trust a young person to drive a couple of their young work-mates home after a shift at Coles, when the streets are almost empty. They also want to lower the voting age to 16, which would indicate that they think young people are smart enough to work things out. I'm a former Green who had no problem with the local branch. I am in dispute with some interstate Greens, but I suspect that there is a chance that they will be nodding their heads in furious agreement about what I'm saying, seeing as we encountered each other around Civil Liberties. It's a odd position I think for a Green to take. I hope some enterprising college student organises a protest around the Minister's office if this goes through, and come the election, the young people remember.

Maya123 10:29 am 29 Jul 18

There will be exceptions for young people that need to drive. As for those that don’t get that exception, but want to socialise and go places, they could do what I did when young. Although I held a driver’s licence (L plates at 16 and licence at 17), I couldn’t afford a car for a couple of years after I began work. No Mummy and Daddy spoilt me by giving me a car; after I left home at 18 and moved to Canberra I was an adult and adults buy their own car. So I saved up and didn’t have a car for a couple of years. Junior wages are not high. But I went out and socialised. I cycled, caught buses and the occasional taxi (usually shared with friends, because none of us earned a lot). All this complaining. Not having a car when young is not the end of the world. But maybe it’s because the young adults were driven to school, picked up from school, never cycled or walked to school as my generation did. Their parents also thought that normal. So after a couple of generations of doing this, gees, how can they get around without a car! Shock horror, can’t be done. Yes it can. May I suggest be an adult, stop complaining, start saving for a car, cycle, catch buses and share taxis with you friends. Then maybe you will discover that a car is not necessary to go everywhere.

bigred 8:48 am 29 Jul 18

I was expecting a comprehensive risk based approach to the road trauma problem from this Minister, but instead saw a narrow focus on a group without access to the ballot box. The response from Chris Steele, while ballsy, suffers from the same lack of evidence.

Deborah Mesman Deborah Mesman 7:39 am 29 Jul 18

I understand what they are trying to do but this is not the way to save lives. It’s frankly ridiculous. Driver education along with life skills way back in school would be a better start along with tougher and more holistic testing.

Judith Deland Judith Deland 7:06 am 29 Jul 18

Discriminatory and dangerous even. Young people still need to get to work, and have a perfect right to go out and socialise after dark. Travelling with a sensible designated driver for a night out, is a good way for them to get around, rather take their chances walking or waiting for transport. A small number of young people will do the wrong thing and behave badly. I suspect they would continue to do that anyway. All it does is punish the good kids. Plus it would give the police another excuse to pull young people over. I can't think that is good thing, when the young people are not driving badly and won't help the police's reputation with them. Very surprised that it is a Greens MLA that is running with this. The Greens usually like to present themselves as more in tune with civil liberties than the major parties. Besides, I cannot recall any fatalities involving young people lately. The ones from interstate often seem to involve a stolen car, and this certainly wouldn't fix that problem if it occurs here. Have spent enough times doing 1am pickups for a young woman working at Coles when a lift with her co-workers wasn't available to think this is daft. If I hadn't been available, she may have been tempted to walk, which over a reasonable distance, wouldn't have been the best option I think.

gooterz 4:25 am 29 Jul 18

Young people can get higher rates on night shifts. This limits their earning potential. No more nighttime shopping or filling up petrol as they won’t be able to drive to and from work.

Another law copy pasted from NSW

Isabella Goyne Isabella Goyne 11:34 pm 28 Jul 18

It is discriminatory. Most P platers are responsible drivers, only a minority cause problems, just like with any other cohort of drivers. The only difference is that many P platers can’t vote. Why not just punish people who do the wrong thing as we already do, rather than make life pointlessly harder for young parents, young shift workers and young designated drivers (among others).

Brad Rowe Brad Rowe 6:34 pm 28 Jul 18

So if said p-plater is doing the right thing and being designated driver, they will be punished?

Liz Hampton Liz Hampton 5:52 pm 28 Jul 18

How do you drive home from work at night?

Garfield 7:51 am 28 Jul 18

“A curfew exemption scheme would be costly, bureaucratic and confusing for motorists and Police,” said Mr Steel.

Spot on. Imagine a young driver who doesn’t ordinarily drive in the curfew period, but has to leave home at 4am for a long drive in order to reach their destination on time. They would have to apply for an exemption and if granted they would still run the risk of being pulled over by police at the start of their journey, at which point the police would need to check that the exemption has been granted and recorded. Allowing for that possible delay would mean the driver would have to leave home at say 3.30am instead, cutting into their sleep and making the journey more dangerous. And what happens if the exemption hasn’t been recorded in the system properly? The driver gets hauled off to the station and charged, taking the police officer off the road for no reason. This policy is a thought bubble from Shane Rattenbury that Labor should have squashed long before now.

Chantell Hunt Chantell Hunt 6:29 am 28 Jul 18

Omg stop winging Nsw have had it for years

    Sonya Heaney Sonya Heaney 10:04 am 29 Jul 18

    Pretty funny thing to say considering NSW's insane reaction to the introduction of the plastic bag ban there. 😂

    Chantell Hunt Chantell Hunt 6:11 pm 29 Jul 18

    Weird comparison drivers licence to a plastic bag mmmm

James Montgomery-Willcox James Montgomery-Willcox 11:36 pm 27 Jul 18

Frankly, ridiculous.

Catherine Ford Catherine Ford 8:05 pm 27 Jul 18

Based on the statistics cited in the article, I'm struggling to see the problem that needs to be addressed here. It's always tragic when anyone dies on our roads, but placing a curfew on P-plate drivers (albeit with exceptions available) is an overreaction. Additionally, merely citing the bald statistics without the context in which these accidents occurred doesn't give enough of the story. It's not enough to know that these young people died, we also need to know whether they were responsible, wholly or partially, for the accident. If analysis of the data shows they weren't at fault in the majority of cases, we're unfairly targeting P-players and potentially imposing the curfew (if we have to have one) on the wrong cohort of drivers.

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