Tony O'Kane | Sep 28, 2009

THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT is proposing new legislation that will restrict P1 and P2 drivers under the age of 25 from driving a vehicle with eight cylinders or more, cars with supercharged or turbocharged engines and cars with performance-enhancing modifications.

The legislation, which will be tabled in the SA State Parliament on October 13, raises the minimum time on a learner's permit from six to 12 months and requires L-platers to accrue at least 75 hours of supervised driving time before applying for a provisional licence.

P-platers returning from a licence disqualification cannot carry passengers between midnight and 5:00am under the new laws, and drivers who fail to display their P-plates face the loss of two demerit points.

“On average 27 percent of all fatalities in SA each year are aged between 16 and 24," South Australian Road Safety Minister Michael O'Brien said.

“There’s more than 76,000 P platers on our roads and these new drivers, particularly those aged between 16 and 20 years of age, are up to three times more likely to be involved in a serious road crash.

“There’s also increasing community concern about these young inexperienced drivers getting behind the wheel of high powered vehicles and we’re basing our approach on existing legislation in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.”

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Exemptions will be granted for provisional drivers who own a high-powered vehicle before the ban comes into effect, as well as those who need to drive one for work purposes.

Drivers who only have access to a high-powered vehicle (such as one owned by their parents) are also exempted.

Exempted drivers must carry documentation of their status while driving, or else risk a $250 fine and the loss of three demerit points.

There are likely to be significant numbers and classes of vehicles exempted. How turbocharged diesel vehicles (such as the Volkswagen Golf) will be treated under the proposed legislation is unclear. Such cars could hardly be viewed as "high performance vehicles".

What it will mean for simple modifications and enhancements such as replacement exhaust and muffler systems, and the fitting of suspension kits, is also unclear.

The legislative strategy proposed will not be an easy one to frame for the SA Government. Any proscriptive legislation dealing with modifications will likely be a nightmare of detail and of exclusions and inclusions.

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