Back in Horse 242 I had written something on this topic. Horse 246 has been forever lost in the world weird web, so this then is the belated follow-up.
There seems to be an epidemic of P-plate drivers killed or injured in car crashes or so the media would have you believe. I still ask what or whom is driving the media (pun intended). A surprising fact is that there are fewer fatal accidents of P-plate drivers per capita than ever before. So, before Bob Carr's Government feels compelled to impose a knee-jerk set of
laws to curb and corral young drivers, a cool assessment of the facts may be in order:
In 1992 the crash rate of novice drivers - those on L and P plates - was 28 crashes per 100,000 licences, RTA figures show. In 2002, the number had dropped to 19, a 30 per cent reduction.
So, while it is true that P-plate drivers are more than twice as likely to be involved in crashes as people over the age of 26, it is not true to say we are experiencing a sudden crisis which requires new regulation. Also of note is that the number of kilometers driven by people under the age of 26 is on average 55% higher. The average distance driven by people 26 and over is 9171km/yr while under 26 years old it's 14216km/yr. This means that the accidents per kilometer driven are actually less for younger drivers. It makes perfect sense that if you're going to be on the road more then the risks exposed go up.
We can't blame irresponsible parents or poor schooling or rap music or Xbox driving games for an increase in recklessness among young drivers, because there appears to have been no increase. Now apparantly you can prove anything with statistics but so far I haven't been challenged on the proof, merely the inference. I always welcome discussion on everything.
Some quotes from ABC Radio irked me a bit this week, and yes I did steal them from the recorded transcripts.
"Fools and young hoons in cars, no matter whether or not there's a curfew or any other ban, they will be silly in their car. But for the overwhelming majority of young people who need their P-plates to get to and from work, to and from places of study, many of whom don't live at home and simply rely on themselves, putting a curfew in place would be unfair." - John Brogden Opposition Leader NSW (Liberal) 17/12/04
This is after and during the conference? There doesn't appear to be a election brewing does there? If not, what prompts this comment?
"I even had one young person say to me, 'well, if I have to get to work and I can't get public transport I'll just pull my P plates off my car and drive myself' and that's...what's been expressed to me," - Carl Scully Minister for Transport NSW 14/12/04
Sure any death is a bad thing, but I still ask for whom all of this needs to be done and who's interests are being heralded. I for one still maintain that all drivers should be retested every 3 years and that the police should be actively enforcing the laws which exist. Carl Scully himself has by inference admitted that there are brazen idiots on the roads who will continue to be brazen idiots.
It is true, you can't legislate against stupidity but normal sensible people shouldn't be punished for that brazeness and especially since when you do bring in new laws like these, only honest people will actually follow them.