P-platers face tough new rules
By BELINDA F SCOTT
ZERO points for P-platers sends a shiver down Joseph Dalpozzo's spine.
The apprentice electrician, who lives at North Boambee, is on his red Ps and would have no way of getting to work if he lost his licence.
NRMA Motoring and Services is calling on the NSW Government to introduce zero demerit points for all red P-platers like Joseph, which would mean he would automatically lose his licence in his first year of driving if he broke any traffic rule which would earn him demerit points.
P-plate drivers currently must not accumulate more than three demerit points.
"I think it's pretty bull," Joseph said.
"Everybody makes mistakes."
The proposal follows a survey of 1000 young NRMA drivers who are members of the NRMA motoring organisation, which showed they would prefer the zero-points option to restrictions on passenger numbers or a night curfew.
But Joseph, who will not complete his first year of driving until April, says risking his licence every time he drove would worry him more than restricted passengers or a curfew.
"But I don't think any of them are necessary," he said.
"I think the best way is to encourage people to do extended driver training courses ? maybe give them an extra point or two on their licence."
The NRMA will present evidence to the Young Drivers Advisory Panel today showing the link between young drivers flouting road rules and people involved in serious crashes.
"Our research shows that there is a correlation between committing offences and people involved in serious crashes so we want to get those people to change their attitude," Mr Evans said.
The Young Driver Advisory Panel is due to hand down its recommendations today and the NSW Government has said it will respond within a week.
NSW P-plate deaths for 2006 increased by almost 30 per cent to 94 from the previous year, which recorded 73, according to the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA). There are more than 35,000 P-plate drivers on NSW roads.
Mr Evans said curfews and passenger restrictions were difficult to police and the motoring organisation wanted measures introduced to curb P-plater deaths that were evidence-based, practical and fair.
But NSW Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal said the problem was that while young drivers were reckless and believed they were bulletproof, a one-strike policy would impede the ability of P-plate drivers to learn from their mistakes.
The NRMA also wants other changes like reviewing standards for driver training so instructors concentrate on teaching students to be good drivers rather than how to pass a test; more highway patrols and a campaign to encourage young drivers to buy safer vehicles.
Joseph Dalpozzo, who is paying back his father for the car he bought for him, says most P-platers can't afford to buy good cars and many can't even afford insurance.
The NRMA plan was yesterday described as 'unfair' and 'extreme' by former NRMA director and Motor Action Group president Richard Talbot, who wants the government to introduce driver training for all Year 11 high school students.
The families of four Goonellabah teenagers killed in a crash near Broken Head in October have formed Southern Cross Lads Inc., a committee dedicated to raising funds for a permanent driving school in Lismore.