New learning curve for drivers
NORTH COAST learner drivers are angry they could lose their permits for three months for exceeding the speed limit by just 1km/h.
NSW Transport Minister David Campbell at the weekend announced the demerit system would be extended to L-platers, but the penalties for learners are much harsher than those for fully licensed drivers.
For exceeding the speed by 1-29km/h under the new system L-platers will lose their learners' permit for three months; for exceeding the speed limit by 30-44km/h they will lose their permit for six months, and for speeding more than 45km/h over the limit, their permit will be suspended for nine months.
Jiggi mother Linda Boucher, who is learning to drive for the first time, said she will be more cautious when the new laws come into effect.
“It's easier to speed in Lismore, the limit's 50km/h then it's 60km/h and often the lines aren't properly painted,” she said. “Generally I'm pretty good, but from time to time my driver does have to prompt me to slow down.”
Ms Boucher said the new law means it would take some learners much longer to get their licence as they might have a time to serve when disqualified.
“I'm sure this will inconvenience them with their work and life,” she said.
Driving instructor Charles Lowe, from Professional Driving Consultancy, said he had not yet been notified of the changes by the Road Traffic Authority - even though they come into effect in six days.
Mr Lowe said it was P-platers not L-platers who are over represented in car accidents.
He was not convinced that being tough on L-platers would stop young people from speeding.
Instead he was critical of the way young people were taught to drive.
Mr Lowe is calling for driving instructors to be trained to give learners the skills to analyse traffic conditions.
Mr Lowe said most instructors focused instead on simply teaching how to operate a car.
“We need a large number of professionally trained and professionally executing driving instructors, not commercial driving instructors,” he said.