The Victorian Labor government has introduced new P-Plate passenger restrictions. The government claim that these restrictions will be go some way to reducing the amount of young people who die on Victoria’s roads.
In reality these restrictions are a desperate attempt to scapegoat young people and will not improve safety at all.
The main aspect to the new Graduated Licensing System (GLS) is an extension to the period that a young driver must hold their probationary licence (P-Plates). The new regulations mean that people will have to hold a probationary licence for 4 years instead of the 3 years previously.
The first year on P-Plates is spent on ‘Probationary 1’ or Red P-Plates while the remaining years are spent on ‘Probationary 2’ or Green P-Plates. While on Red P-Plates, a young person is totally banned from carrying more than one passenger between the ages of 16 and 21. Other features of the GLS include a new mandatory minimum of 120 hours supervised practice on L-Plates before a young person is able to obtain their probationary licence.
While young deaths on the road are tragedies and the issue deserves attention, it is no solution to blame young people and slap heavy-handed bans on them that only increase the pressures that young people already face.
In light of outrageous petrol prices, inadequate public transport and a well motivated desire to minimise greenhouse gas emissions, many young people choose to car pool amongst friends for school, uni and work in order to share out these burdens. But all this is to stop for first year young drivers, the majority of which are sensible, law abiding people.
A mandatory minimum of 120 hours of supervised driving experience is a positive thing in light of the obvious role lack of experience plays in young deaths on the roads. However the government has not sought to make this affordable for the majority of young people who are low waged.
Companies like the RACV stand to considerably boost their profits due to the GLS and have supported these new laws. The RACV charges $41 for a 45 minute lesson. On that basis it would cost young people in the vicinity of $6560 just to get their 120 hours supervised practice with an instructor! This it totally out of reach for most.
What is required are publicly funded driving schools and lessons. These would be easy to implement with the budget surpluses available to both the Victorian and federal Labor governments. If State Labor were serious about making sure Victorians ‘arrive alive’ they’d be putting serious funding into improving young driver education instead of just slapping young people with bans and higher costs.
At the moment for young people who live in the suburbs there is no alternative to driving if you want to go into the city. Public transport is almost non existent in many areas and coupled with the rising cost of living and low wages things are getting harder not easier.
The Socialist Party rejects the passenger restrictions for P-Plate drivers and calls for free publicly funded driving schools to ensure that young people are given proper driver and safety training. This would be a much better way to ensure we reduce young deaths on our roads.
By Kirk Leonard