P-PLATERS NEED DRIVER EDUCATION
By LEE McDOUGAL
NATHAN Quinn doesn't think any further restrictions on NSW P-plate drivers is the answer to cutting the youth carnage on our roads.
In the wake of the death of yet another P-plater on the weekend ? the 49th in NSW for the year -the 20-year-old is adamant there is a better way to make young drivers safer behind the wheel.
The simple answer, according to Nathan, is education and plenty of 'off-road' experience.
And the Coffs Harbour born and raised apprentice mechanic should know what he's talking about ? he is fast gaining a name and reputation as one of Australia's newest car racing prodigies.
The son of Martin Quinn ? a well-known and successful Coffs Harbour rally driver during the 1980s and 1990s ? Nathan recently drove to ninth outright against much older and better equipped drivers at the Rally of Canberra.
Yet while it is easy to assume, given his parentage, that Nathan was driving from a very early age, it will surprise many to learn that his first experience behind the steering wheel came only when he gained his L-plates.
"Dad never wanted me to drive," Nathan said.
"It wasn't until I had my P-plates, and after a lot of convincing to turn dad around, that I became a member of the Coffs Harbour and District Sporting Car Club. "They hold khanacross and motorkhana events and that is where you really learn to drive. You learn just how easy it is for a car to lose control and how easy it is to get into trouble."
Given he only only came off his P-plates ? 'unscathed' ? six months ago, and his status in racing circles, his advice to young L-plate and P-plate drivers speaks a wisdom far beyond his years.
Nathan said that once you were out of control, regardless of who you were or how good a driver, it didn't take much to lose your life.
"Look at Peter Brock. "He was considered by many as Australia's best driver yet once he lost control, that was it," Nathan said.
While the national media attention is on the call for P-plate curfews, passenger restrictions and raising of the minimum P-plate age to 18, Nathan believes the only way to successfully reduce the young driver road toll is driver education.
"Get them to join a car club where they will learn how to drive a car properly," he said.
"You learn how easy it is to lose control, you learn how easy it is to get into trouble, you develop a basic perception of what a car can do.
"Also, if you want to race and prove something, you do it in a controlled, safe environment. There are so many variables happening on the highway. If you want to drive at high speed, do it in a proper, safe, controlled race environment."