The ACT Government will target the use of mobile phones by younger drivers as it moves to overhaul the conditions for provisional licence holders and likely bring them more into line with other jurisdictions.
Minister for Road Safety Shane Rattenbury said work on a discussion paper was well under way so consultation could begin this year on a review of P-plate driving conditions.
He said the 2016 road safety plan had identified the need for a review of the graduated licensing program but doctors groups such as the AMA have been pushing for the ACT to be aligned with other jurisdictions.
“It’s been identified to me that there are differences in different jurisdictions and I’m keen to look at the evidence to make sure that we have the right measures in the ACT,” he said.
Mr Rattenbury said he was particularly concerned about the distraction of mobile phones to inexperienced drivers.
“It’s bad for any driver to use their phone when they are driving but our younger drivers are much more addicted to their phones with much less experience,” he said, although he did not believe greater penalties was necessarily the answer.
“I think we need to look at restrictions on phones being available in vehicles, people are so addicted to them these days, particularly younger drivers. We need to look at what different jurisdictions are doing, look at the evidence and see what is actually working.”
All jurisdictions enforce a zero blood alcohol concentration and require provisional drivers to display their P-plates, but ACT L and P- plate holders do not have speed restrictions such as in NSW where they can’t drive more than 90km/h until graduating to green Ps, when a 100km/h limit applies.
In NSW, they also can’t drive a high-powered car, carry more than one passenger under the age of 21 between 11 pm and 5 am, or tow trailers weighing more than 250 kg. P-platers are also not allowed to use hands-free kits or wireless handsets for their phones and use a loudspeaker, the same as in Queensland and Victoria, where high-powered cars are also restricted.
In Queensland, drivers under 25 and driving between 11 pm and 5 am, can only carry one passenger under the age of 21 who is not an immediate family member.
Mr Rattenbury said the Government was keen to work with young people on what they think will work, saying there was no point creating rules that simply won’t work.
“I’ve asked the directorate to look at some mechanisms to ensure good conversations with younger drivers as well as looking at the evidence,” he said.
Mr Rattenbury said it was really important that young drivers were equipped for what they would face out on the roads.
“There are many challenges that come up as a driver. When you’re a bit older you take it for granted that you have some of that experience under your belt. But it is really important that we expose younger drivers to all sorts of conditions – country roads, peak hour conditions, the sorts of things they’ll face in their real life once they get their licence,” he said.
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