Push for training for young drivers

Push for training for young drivers

Driving instructor Greg Clark with driving student Kirsty Johnson.

THE Department of Transport has backed its phased system to produce safe drivers for WA Roads, despite a recent survey suggesting more could be done.

A survey of more than 500 RAC members between the ages of 17 and 21 showed just 11 per cent of young drivers felt “extremely capable” of managing potential hazards after getting their P plates.

Almost 40 per cent said they did not feel current tests adequately judged the abilities of an inexperienced driver and 30 per cent said they felt additional training was needed to prepare them for WA roads.

Twenty-one-year-old East Perth resident Abigail Lamont took the survey.

She believed extra training could be integrated into the learning process.

“It’s helpful to know general road rules but training that puts you in different situations, like country roads, and tests you against potential hazards would go a long way,” she said.

But change looks unlikely.

A DoT spokeswoman said its Graduated Driver Training and Licensing system for novice drivers, a phased approach introduced in 2001, was regularly reviewed and evaluated.

“Road safety research suggests that the system helps to produce better ongoing results than mandatory defensive driving courses for learner drivers,” she said.

“The accumulation of on-road driving experience under the supervision of an experienced driver or instructor continues to be the major contributor to reduced crash risk in solo driving for novice drivers.

“Novice drivers and supervisors are encouraged to obtain a variety of on-road driving experience across diverse road and weather conditions to increase awareness and aptitude.”

RAC corporate affairs general manager Will Golsby said change could turn people away from driving.

“While we acknowledge that our young members believe the current system could do with some changes, road safety research indicates it does work,” he said.

“If the licensing process becomes too onerous, less inclusive or too expensive, young drivers may choose not to get their licence or drive illegally.”

Leeming resident and iDriving WA driving instructor Greg Clark argued the current system was fine.

“There’s no substitute for experience,” he said.

“One of the things I tell parents is to get in the car with their kids.

“A lot of parents say they don’t want their kids driving their cars because they’re new.

“But really, you’re balancing your kids’ safety against the possibility of a few scratches.”

Key stats from RAC Young Driver Survey.

44 per cent had received a speeding fine since they got their licence.

15 per cent said they had driven while over the legal blood alcohol limit.

35 per cent had been in a passenger in an overloaded car.

55 per cent admitted to driving while sending a text or email.

84 per cent admitted to driving while tired or fatigued.