Young drivers will be offered the chance to learn more about road safety and reduce their logbook driving hours under a raft of changes by the NSW Government covering Learner licences.
Learners who take part in a new Safer Drivers Course and also have professional lessons will be able to reduce their compulsory supervised driving hours from 120 to 80.
Learners will also be allowed, from 1 July 2013, to travel up to 90km/h instead of 80km/h, giving them more supervised driving experience on higher speed roads in preparation for their graduation to P-Plates.
This follows a recommendation by the Auditor General to review learner speed limits.
Roads Minister Duncan Gay said the Safer Drivers Course, which will become available to Learners from July, will involve both theoretical and practical coaching.
“It also teaches learner drivers about gauging road conditions, seeing issues that could affect them and making safe decisions,” he said.
“This is a first step in rewarding the state’s younger drivers for learning safer behaviour behind the wheel.
“Young drivers are tragically over-represented in the NSW road toll and we want to ensure they are all given the opportunity to learn about road safety while they are still learning the basics of driving.”
Mr Gay said the course would be gradually rolled out based on community uptake and the availability of service providers.
“We’ve carried out market research with parents and learner drivers who believe the course will benefit them,” he said.
“They have told us it tackles the very aspects beginners face when they first start driving.
“The course deals with different road conditions, understanding factors beyond a driver’s control and also helps identify risks on the road.
“We recommend that learners enrol in the course when they have 50 hours completed in their logbook. By that stage they will have basic driving skills and will understand and appreciate the lessons they will be taught.
“This is a different approach to conventional driver training which focuses more on the mechanics of driving and road rules.”
A board of road safety experts including representatives from Centre for Road Safety, Roads and Maritime Services, NSW Police, road safety researchers and education specialists developed the course.
The course has also been supported by an advisory panel which included industry and community representatives including NRMA, driver trainer associations and community based road safety education providers.
“The course will help those young drivers who struggle to log 120 hours behind the wheel while on their L-plates while at the same time addressing safety issues they will face when they first drive solo,” the Minister said.
The cost of the course will be capped at an affordable price for each participant and any additional cost of delivering the course will be covered by the Community Road Safety Fund, which has been established to ensure infringement revenue directly finances road safety initiatives.
The board identified options to help young drivers from remote, lower socio-economic and Aboriginal communities meet the requirements to qualify for their P-plates.
Work on these options is underway. A pilot of a restricted provisional driver’s licence for young people in three remote NSW communities west of the Newell Highway will also begin in July.
Under 25-year-olds in those remote areas will be able to obtain a provisional drivers licence, only for the purpose of driving to work, education and medical appointments. They can only be given the restricted licence if they have passed the driving test and completed at least 50 supervised driving hours.