From Today P-Platers Can Be Hit With 8 Demerit Points
The introduction of new legislation banning P2 licence holders from using their mobile phone in any capacity – legislation which came into effect as of this morning, Thursday December 1 – appears to have raised more questions than it has answered.
The new rules, the same which already apply to P1 and Learner licence holders, are even further reaching than simply no longer being allowed to make or receive calls; Bluetooth is completely off the table, making anyone caught playing music through their phone liable for up to four demerit points - eight if it’s a public holiday.
Not even a phone using GPS functions will be permitted, something which appears to be a sticking point for many, including 29-year-old Ollie.
“I can go out and buy an iPod and plug it in, just like I would my phone, but I can’t use Google Maps?” he says. “That’s just stupid. It makes no sense.”
Peter Khoury, spokesperson for the NRMA, said that while he understands the frustrations of green P-platers, the mounting road toll on NSW roads is to blame.
“2016 is… definitely worse than 2015, and 2015 was a horrible year,” he explains. “It’s heading in the wrong direction.
“One of the concerns that authorities have is that young people are being distracted by technology behind the wheel, and the government have identified this as a way of dealing with that.”
Interestingly, though, in a breakdown of road traffic statistics from 2014, 1,395 crashes were due to an internal distraction while 3,813 were blamed on something outside the vehicle taking the attention of the driver.
“There’s research to suggest that outside distractions are more dangerous than distractions inside,” Mr Khoury admits. “That’s everything from street signs, checking out people as they’re crossing the road, all of the things that we get distracted by. You can’t legislate against every distraction.”
And that’s where we’re going wrong, according to Joel Nielsen, an instructor at Safe Drive Training; increasing legislation isn’t always the answer.
“We can listen to people’s diatribe about more speed cameras and more rules and we don’t get down to the root cause of what is causing the crash,” he says. “We train people to apply the rules and then we don’t re-educate people on the rules.”
“There are drivers out there who never saw a roundabout when they went for their licence and don’t know the correct procedure to indicate.
“The government are, in my opinion, looking for revenue from this.”
Each year NSW Centre for Road Safety publish an in-depth analysis of the year’s road traffic accidents; until 2011, it was possible to see how many crashes had occurred as a result of handheld mobile phone use.
In 2012 - the year that the government brought in the rule banning the use of phones while driving - that breakdown stopped appearing on the annual report, making it nearly impossible to determine how much of a difference the legislation has made to the road toll.
NSW Shadow Minister for Transport Jodi McKay believes that is a mistake.
“I think it’s an important measure… of an evidence of crashes that are caused by mobile phone use,” she urges.
“I think if you are going to make significant changes like this then they need to be evidence based, and that means that the data needs to be readily available.
“The government have not been able to prove, one way or another, that this is going to discourage people from [taking] their attention away from what they’re doing.”
Do you think that mobile phones should be completely banned for P-platers?