Radical overhaul of ACT laws for L and P platers

Glynis Quinlan 3 April 2018 71

The ACT Government is radically overhauling the ACT’s Learner and Provisional driving laws with plans to introduce a minimum of 100 supervised driving hours for learner drivers, the creation of a new ‘P1 plate’ stage with extra restrictions for the first 12 months, and the banning of all mobile phones – including ‘hands free’ – for both L and P platers.

Under the changes, P platers will be limited to one passenger aged between 16 and 24 for the first 12 months and will not be able to drive between midnight and 5 am during this time.

Demerit points for P platers will also be reduced to a maximum of four points for three years and learner drivers will need to pass a hazard perception test before receiving a licence.

However, the changes do not reduce speed limits for new drivers or affect existing P platers.

ACT Road Safety Minister Shane 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.

In the same period, cars driven by young drivers killed 23 other drivers, cyclists, passengers or pedestrians, with 10 of those deaths between midnight and 5 am.

Canberrans have until May 28 this year to have their say on the reforms but the Government is clearly planning to forge ahead, with input limited to the timing of the changes, the staging of P plate restrictions and any needed exemptions.

“I recognise some of these changes may affect the independence of young drivers, their families and friends,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“However, it is important that we keep in mind that these initiatives are about saving lives and reducing the far longer lasting impacts of car crashes.”

Infographic supplied.

Mr Rattenbury said the community has a responsibility to provide greater protection for young drivers while they are at their most vulnerable stage of driving.

“We know that drivers are most likely to have a crash in the first year of the P licence,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“The main causes of young driver crashes are inexperience, inattention, distracted driving and speeding. All of these things we can do something about.

“There is no one solution, which is why we are looking at a range of approaches that work together to reduce the risk for young and new drivers.”

Mr Rattenbury said the Government wants to minimise ‘undue hardship’ on the community but only where it doesn’t compromise improving road safety.

“Feedback from the community will inform the timing of introduction of reforms, the appropriate staging of restrictions to P drivers and the design and application of any exemptions,” he said.

According to Mr Rattenbury, research shows introducing a range of measures can lead to a 50 per cent reduction in fatal and serious injury crashes.

In the decade since Victoria introduced a graduated licensing scheme, there has been a 42.5 per cent reduction in the number of drivers aged 18-23 years who have been involved in fatal or serious injury crashes.

In NSW, fatal crashes for young drivers under 26 declined by 52 per cent from 1999-2000 to 2009-10.

Asked why there were no plans to introduce speed restrictions for L and P platers – as occurs in some other states – Mr Rattenbury said that the national framework does not include this measure as part of the recommended components.

“Obliging only some vehicles to drive at a reduced speed limit could risk aggressive driving and unsafe overtaking by other drivers able to travel at higher speeds,” Mr Rattenbury said.

The Government has released a discussion paper on the changes entitled Your PLates: Reviewing the process from L plates to no plates.

The seven main changes include:

Supervised driving hours: Learner drivers must hold their licence for at least a year and complete a minimum of 100 supervised driving hours, including 10 hours at night time.

P1 and P2 stages: Introducing a new P1 plate with extra restrictions for the first 12 months to help new drivers safely gain more experience. No change to licence length, it will remain at three years.

Night time driving: No driving between midnight and 5 am for P1 drivers.

Peer passenger restrictions: P1 drivers will be limited to one passenger aged between 16 and 24 in the car.

Demerit Points: A maximum of four points for three years. The rationale is that swift and severe penalties will deter high-risk driving.

Mobile phones: No mobile phones, including hands-free, for L, P1 and P2 drivers.

Hazard Perception Test: Learner drivers must successfully complete a computer-based test to recognise dangerous situations and react safely before being eligible for their Ps.

Infographic supplied.

Anyone who would like to give feedback on the reforms should go to the Government’s Your Say website by clicking here. At the website, you can download the discussion paper, participate in a survey and take part in a ‘Kitchen Table Discussion’.

What do you think of the reforms? Do they go too far or are they long overdue? What will be the impact on Canberra’s young people? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and participate in The RiotACT’s poll.

Which reform for ACT L and P drivers is the most needed:

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71 Responses to Radical overhaul of ACT laws for L and P platers
Blen_Carmichael Blen_Carmichael 6:15 pm 18 Apr 18

Wow. I remember in Canberra when you got your learner’s at 16 and 9 months, and your full driver’s licence at 17. No P plates.

Bryan Kelly Bryan Kelly 2:44 pm 18 Apr 18

Think you're a good driver? Now you can find out https://ubicar.com.au

Bonkers Bonkers 9:41 pm 06 Apr 18

“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.”

So that means there were 10 deaths occurring between 5am and midnight. 1/3 vs 2/3 seems fairly common sense, Ls and Ps should only be allowed to drive between midnight and 5am as the chance of dying is clearly lower.


We could put a bit of common sense into the argument. I’m sure there are many really responsible young drivers out there that shouldn’t have this draconian measures imposed upon them.

While my children aren’t even close to driving age, if they’re the designated driver for the night I’d be pretty hacked off if they got fined for getting their friends home safe after midnight.

Stupid. Just stupid.

Isabella Goyne Isabella Goyne 7:42 pm 05 Apr 18

Can’t they just punish any drivers who actually break the law, rather than target a swath of drivers many of whom are safe and responsible? And as others have pointed out P platers often have jobs and responsibilities on par with full licence holders, they don’t just get a licence to hoon around.

    Isabella Goyne Isabella Goyne 7:43 pm 05 Apr 18

    Plus a lot of this is basically unenforceable.

Tom O'Loughlin Tom O'Loughlin 5:47 pm 05 Apr 18

The midnight until 5am ban is just unrealistic. What if someone is an apprentice baker?? There is no thought behind this at all. If you are going to have a curfew, there needs to be a worker's permit.

Kaitlin Cargill Kaitlin Cargill 10:15 am 05 Apr 18

Maddie Somerss does that mean young parents won’t be able to drive around with their children if they hold a Provisional licence?

Or anyone for that matter??

Imagine you’re a new mother with your newborn who is sick and you can’t even drive them to the hospital in the middle of the night because it’s illegal.


    Susana Targett Susana Targett 1:30 pm 05 Apr 18

    One passenger between the ages of 16-24....

    Maddie Somers Maddie Somers 3:50 pm 05 Apr 18

    So you still can’t take your sick child to the hospital till their over 16?

Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:59 am 05 Apr 18

“Darren Goddard 8:46 am 05 Apr 18
I’m sure the police license plate recognition software would be able to be tweaked so it identifies those with an exemption”

Unlikely the police would be out driving in the wee hours. If they are they would be attending another stolen/burning car incident of which there are two a night in Canberra.

Chris Bee Chris Bee 7:47 am 05 Apr 18

What if they’re working late? Are there allowances?

Lynne Staunton Lynne Staunton 7:36 am 05 Apr 18

Look who is in charge of it. Minister for "get everyone on bicycles and on the tram (we need to pay for it somehow)"

Geoffrey Hugh Miller Geoffrey Hugh Miller 6:53 am 05 Apr 18

The curfew idea is stupid, because so many people will need exceptions for work or study it'd be impossible to police. Restricting the number of passengers may be a good idea, at least for the first year, but it'd make it harder to organise 'designated drivers' for group events.

Christy Scott Christy Scott 6:31 am 05 Apr 18

The hours restriction will make it hard if the driver works odd hours if they need a job whilst studying, for example..

Anthony Trump Anthony Trump 4:50 am 05 Apr 18

So every bar, restaurant, club in Canberra who employs P-platers will close at 11:30pm... to ensure all those staff are tucked-up in-bed at home by midnight? ...seriously

    Hannah Feldy Hannah Feldy 6:37 am 05 Apr 18

    You can get an exemption for commuting to work, similar to those who have restricted licenses in other states.

    Anthony Trump Anthony Trump 7:46 am 05 Apr 18

    Hannah Feldy ...and so hundreds of P-platers gain an exemption (as there must be so many that are working late or early jobs) - and the flow-on effect is that the Police MUST pull-over every P-plater they see on the roads between 12-5 (so this would be a nightmare for the Police - and for the P-plater who could be pulled over every day - and multiple times on the way home) ...surely this hasn’t been thought through. I totally understand the intent - but this just seems like a nightmare to administer

    Darren Goddard Darren Goddard 8:46 am 05 Apr 18

    I’m sure the police license plate recognition software would be able to be tweaked so it identifies those with an exemption

    Wanda Peachey Wanda Peachey 1:56 pm 05 Apr 18

    not all P platers drive their own cars. Some drive their parents/partners/friends/roommates cars so number plate recognition wouldn’t work all the time.

Susana Targett Susana Targett 4:27 am 05 Apr 18

Restricting the hours a p plater can drive is stupid, being able to drive with just one passenger for a year is a good idea but would suck for young mums! Glad they haven't put speed restrictions on! They should add in a mandatory defensive driving course!!!

    Susana Targett Susana Targett 12:12 am 06 Apr 18

    Yes young mums will be ok, I re read it.

Yasir Mohiuddin Yasir Mohiuddin 11:51 pm 04 Apr 18

Dominick Peter Will Sid midnight ban wtf act

Nick Ludbey Nick Ludbey 11:07 pm 04 Apr 18

Nancy state! Or in this case Territory! Another clear example why the ACT should never have been allowed it's own government! Bored muppets with nothing better to do but pass ridiculous laws that don't affect them! Trust me I livec there for 20 years and spent half of those years negotiating roundabouts going round and round and round....

Ryan Sjaarda Ryan Sjaarda 10:50 pm 04 Apr 18

Why dont you ACTUALLY EDUCATE, dont leave it up to the parents

Pull your goddamn finger out & fund driver education.

All these new restrictions will do nothing but punish L&P platers for doing nothing wrong, all because You're to scared to spend money on meaningful change & bullying young people is just so easy

olfella olfella 8:40 pm 04 Apr 18

When I was teaching my kids to drive the biggest issue I had was teaching them anticipation. Situations like that green light is going to change soon so why are you accelerating, or just with that car that just parked as they may open their door and step out… So I support Hazard Perception test but the rest, why? We are not only teaching them to drive but in the process to get some good long term habits. No drinking/drugs and no speeding. Let the courts deal with those that want to disobey but dont penalise everyone.

Matt Graham Matt Graham 8:33 pm 04 Apr 18

I had to be at work by 4am on my p’s. or finished after midnight

gooterz gooterz 7:58 pm 04 Apr 18

Where is the data to back this up.
P plater who has had a bit to drink is forced to drive home at speed at 11.45 at night.

Matthew Boate Matthew Boate 6:50 pm 04 Apr 18

The passenger limit. Will only encourage racing and drink driving.

5 people traveling in one car with on deso driver Vs 5 people in 3 cars, are all three drivers sober?

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