Crackdown on P-plater phone use

Safe: Reilly King with his father Adrian who has taught him to be an extra cautious driver. Picture: Cole Bennett

Safe: Reilly King with his father Adrian who has taught him to be an extra cautious driver. Picture: Cole Bennett

New laws banning all P-plate drivers from using their mobile phones, even hands-free or in speaker mode will come into place today.

Roads Minister Duncan Gay announced the new rules in July to stop the "heartbreaking" spike in the rise in fatal accidents among young people.

Currently, only drivers on their P1 licences or "red Ps" are prohibited from using phones at all while driving, while those who have progressed to their P2 licences, or "Green Ps", are able to use their phones for calls and audio only, providing it is securely mounted or a hands-free device is used.

Under the new rules, all P-plate drivers will be banned from using a mobile phone for any reason while driving or riding.

P-plate drivers will have to buy a navigation device to receive GPS directions while driving under the new mobile phone ban. 

The penalty for using a mobile phone for any driver is $325 and the loss of 4 demerit points.

Other measures being introduced include punishing "naughty kids" with a six-month extension of their Ps every time they are suspended for speeding or other unsafe driving.

Local police have welcomed the changes. Sutherland Detective Chief Inspector Terry O’Neill said P-plate drivers are at higher risk because of their driving inexperience.

‘’This new law is to ensure P-plate drivers specifically focus on their driving and the conditions in which they are driving in,’’ he said.

Reilly King, 17, of Grays Point, spoke to Fairfax Media earlier this year about the changes.

His mother Rebecca Ivers – the director of the injury division of research with the George Institute for Global Health – has been talking to him about driving safely for "at least five years". She also reminds him when road conditions have changed because it is wet, for example, and about how to minimise the risk of an accident or distraction.

"She will say, 'Make sure you don't listen to loud music, and tell them [his passengers] not to talk too much'," he said.

His mum had showed him the statistics about young drivers "a million times" so he tends to be a safer driver than his peers.

It comes as statistics show that new P-plate drivers die at twice the rate of all drivers, although they comprise only 10 per cent of all drivers. Fatal crashes involving young people rose dramatically across Australia last year to 233 after falling between 2003 to 2014.

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