'R' plates backed in safety drive

By Genevieve Helliwell

2 comments


Bay road safety experts are backing the Government's proposed move to introduce "R" plates for restricted drivers.

Western Bay of Plenty driving instructors and police say they support the change, which is part of a push to reduce the road toll by targeting high-risk drivers.

Bay of Plenty Driving School owner Jeroen van der Beek said an R plate on the back of a motor vehicle would be a "visual reminder" to other motorists that the person behind the wheel was still learning to drive.

"There's been talk about it in the industry for about a year so it's not a new idea but I think it's new to the public," he said.

"In Australia, they have the P plate and that's for Provisional licence and I think it seems to work quite well, so I support it. I think it's a good idea."

The move could encourage those who had their restricted licences for a long time to sit the full licence test, he said.

"There are people who have had their restricted licence 20-plus years and never got their full. How many people would want an R plate on the back of their car for the rest of their life? Not many I wouldn't think." he said.

April McRae, of April's Driving School, said she would support anything that encouraged people to become better drivers.

"I see some shocking drivers on the road. I wouldn't say that about the ones I'm teaching because they're still learning but yes there are some bad ones out there."

An Automobile Association (AA) spokesperson supported the move and said R plates for restricted license-holders was another tool to help reduce the number of accidents involving young, inexperienced drivers.

AA motoring affairs general manager, Mike Noon, said young drivers were six to seven times more likely to have a crash than older, more experienced drivers.

"R plates could avoid driver peer pressure and possible incidences of alcohol-related driving and driving late at night and that sort of thing," he said. "People would know they're not supposed to carry passengers and this could be a way to reinforce that."

"It may not be cool to display them but R plates would better identify inexperienced drivers and show others they haven't got their full licence yet."

Senior Sergeant Ian Campion said the drivers who were most at risk were the ones who were "inexperienced".

"I would support certainly this move as a way to identify less experienced drivers ... and it's really important we do what we can to get these people through to their mid-20s when the risk decreases."

In 2011 there were 12 fatal crashes and one involved a restricted licence holder.

Currently, there are 2693 Class 1 Restricted licence holders in the Bay of Plenty.

Restricted licence rules



  • To apply for a restricted licence, you must be at least 16-and-a-half years of age.


  • You must also have held a learner licence for at least six months.


  • It is recommended drivers complete 120 supervised hours before sitting a restricted license test.


  • It will cost $134.80 to sit a restricted licence test for the first time ($48.20 application fee and $86.60 testing fee).


  • To re-sit the test, you must pay the testing fee ($86.60).


  • Drivers must hold a restricted license for 18 months, or 12 months if they complete a Defensive Driving course.

     



- Bay of Plenty Times

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