Steane Klose | Feb 7, 2008

The RACV has been successful in coercing Premier John Brumby to introduce legislation limiting the amount of passengers carried by Victorian P-plate drivers. The new law will come into effect on July 1 this year and effectively limits a P-plate driver from carrying more than one passenger aged 16 to 21, unless there are exceptional circumstances, the extent of which are not yet known.

It is hoped the new P-plate passenger restrictions will help to reduce the amount of young people dying on Victorian roads, with evidence showing that first year P-plate drivers are three times more at risk when they are carrying multiple passengers. Twenty six percent of first year P-plater fatalities occurred in vehicles carrying multiple passengers.

If vehicles are being used for essential services then VicRoads will have the power to waive the passenger restrictions in appropriate situations. The penalties for flouting the new passenger restrictions have not yet been announced.

The new legislation is just one part of the Victorian State governments plan to reduce the road-toll by 30 percent within the next 10 years, other initiatives will include;

• Extending 40km/h zones along local shopping strips

• Drunk drivers recording a blood alcohol level of 0.1 or more will suffer immediate loss of license

• Mandatory factory fitment of safety features such as ESC/ESP in new cars beginning 2011, and side curtain airbags from 2012

• Providing drivers who have lost in 9 or more demerit points the opportunity to earn three back by attending a road safety program

• Further spending on roads ($50 million) that don’t currently qualify as black spots

There is no doubting that the above initiatives will save lives, however we will welcome the day that an Australian government gives driver training and education a go, rather than relying on ever more legislation. Teaching young drivers respect for their vehicle, appreciation for just how dangerous driving can be and training them to avoid accidents will save lives. It’s not as simple or as cost effective as passing new laws and placing further restrictions on young drivers but its rare that the easy way gets the best result.

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