P-platers learning the hard way
By Luke Prendergast
NORTH Coast P-platers have been slow to heed changes to P-plate laws, with one Tweed/Byron police officer issuing 25 infringement notices in the first week of operation.
Tweed/Byron Local Area Commander Superintendent Michael Kenny said the large number of P-platers offending was disturbing.
"All 25 said to police they hadn't read or seen the RTA letter that was sent to all P-platers, but I don't accept that. They couldn't have been living in a cave," he said.
"Highway police are dealing with these offences and continually hearing, 'I didn't know', but that's not an excuse. If there are some people who genuinely don't know about the new laws they need to find out because, number one, they were made to protect young drivers and, two, if the rules aren't followed there will be repercussions.
"I know it's early days, but I don't accept that P-platers don't know what changes have come in."
Most infringements were for speeding, while a small number were for not having P-plates fixed to vehicles correctly, or at all.
"I want to make a request to parents to take an active interest and speak to P-platers so they're kept safe and aware of what is likely to happen to them if they do the wrong thing," Supt Kenny said.
Tweed/Byron Highway Patrol officer Senior Constable John Mulhern said he apprehended one P-plater in Murwillumbah at 10pm last Thursday night with a blood-alcohol reading of .40.
"In these cases they often play the blame game, but they have to realise the onus is on them to obey the law. They are the one behind the wheel," he said.
Snr Const Brett Burns said he had fined about a dozen P-platers since July 1 who had failed to display P-plates outside their car.
"A lot may be genuinely ignorant, but there are others who purposely hide their plates so they can drive at 110km/h along the highway," he said.
"From July 1 it was obvious the new laws were in force because a lot of young drivers were doing the right thing displaying their plates on the outside of the car.
"But there are still those who are slow on the uptake and they are finding out the hard way with a $185 fine."
P-plater Gemma Mackay, of Ballina, said she had received the letter, but was confused as to whether the new laws applied to her as a green P-plater.
"I thought that with the passenger laws it only applied to red-platers," she said.
She's right. Supt Kenny will be relieved to know at least one P-plater knows the new laws.