New graduated licensing mean further checks before getting P-plates

On November 20, changes were made for people getting their driver’s licences.

Owens Driving School instructor Steve Ruddell explained the new graduating driving policy

The main change is that instead of going from red P plates, drivers now have to complete a Hazard Perception Test (HPT) 10 months after receiving their L plates.

They then graduate to green P plates after completing 12 months’ on the red P plates.

“The day you get your P plates is the most likely time in your life that you are going to have an accident,” Mr Ruddell said.

“That why the HPT has been put in place before you get your Ps, rather than letting people go out and drive and then telling them about hazards and safety. 

“Statistics prove that is where the problems can be.”

We asked Mr Ruddell for his thoughts on the new changes.

“The changes are probably a positive,” he said.

“As I say, putting in that test before, rather than putting someone out there blind.

“The HPT is a virtual reality test. It doesn’t give you a real experience, but it gives you an idea of what to look for.

“It will show you sitting in the vehicle, give you details like you are in a 50km/h zone, you’re going 50km/h and it will show you when to put on the brakes.

“Or, if you’re on the road and a lady might walk out with a stroller, it tells you if you are too late to brake or too early.”

Mr Ruddell said one of the biggest killers among young drivers was the use of mobile phones while in traffic.

“Mobile phones, speeding and fatigue are the three biggest killers,” he said.

“You are not allowed to use any component of that mobile phone. No texting, using maps, music. It has to be off.”

The new laws have brought with them some hefty fines, Mr Ruddell said, as well as other disincentives. 

For example, if a P plate driver is caught using a mobile phone in traffic, they will get an extra six months added to their provisional licence period.

But, “depending on how many times it occurs, your licence can be suspended,” Mr Ruddell said.