Crash researcher fears more unskilled drivers on the way

A SUNSHINE Coast car crash researcher fears young drivers will lack vital on-road experience if they follow a trend of delaying their driver's test for up to seven years to avoid needing 100 log book practice hours.

It follows claims by the RACQ that many learners are waiting until age 25 to sit the test, because the time-consuming log book system then no longer applies.

Dr Bridie Scott-Parker, of the University of the Sunshine Coast Accident Research Centre, feared such a practice would result in an increase in unskilled drivers on the roads.

"We want people gaining as much practice on the road for as long a period as possible, exposing themselves to as many different driving circumstances as possible, before they even think of taking the practical test," Dr Scott-Parker said. RACQ figures show almost 15,000 Queenslanders over the age of 23 still had their learner drivers' licence in 2013, an increase from around 9000 in 2007 when the changes to the graduated licensing scheme first took effect.

"Younger drivers appear to be choosing ease of licensing rather than speed of licensing by delaying applying for their P plates," the RACQ's Lauren Ritchie said.

Research conducted by Monash University found a 30% reduction in fatal crashes among first-year P-plate drivers since the new licensing system took effect.

Dr Scott-Parker said the phenomenon of delaying a licence test was one not heard of on the Sunshine Coast.

She suggested most local drivers were keen to secure their licence for convenience of travel locally, especially in emergencies.

Dr Scott-Parker said there were also positive factors to delayed licensing: older drivers were less likely to be subject to negative influence of friends and their brains would be more mature. On the flip side, however, older learner drivers often had reduced access to learning opportunities.

The Queensland learner license system requires drivers under 25 to complete 100 hours of supervised driving before sitting a driving test and applying for their P1 licence.

Drivers over the age of 25 aren't required to fill out a log book before sitting the test and can then apply directly for their P2 license.

Young drivers are encouraged to complete an RACQ survey of younger drivers at http://www.free2go.com.au/free2go-Membership/Competitions

 

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