March 20, 1998
The State Government today called for community input into the continuing problem of young people being killed and seriously injured on Western Australian roads.
At the JOY 98 youth festival in Perth, Transport Minister Eric Charlton and Youth Minister Mike Board launched the first comprehensive examination of youth as a high risk group of road users.
The Way Ahead: Road Safety Directions for Youth in Western Australia shows that although young people in the 17-24 age group represent only 12 per cent of the State's population, they make up nearly 30 per cent of fatalities and serious injuries from road crashes.
"The directions paper looks at the major causes of death and injury in young drivers and motorcyclists and when and where they are involved in road crashes," Mr Charlton said.
"It identifies the human factors behind the tragedy, in particular attitudes, motivations and the skill of young road users.
"Making the right decisions and being able to identify risks are generally developed through time and experience on the road and this is one of the reasons the State Government is making sweeping changes to the training and licensing of young drivers."
Mr Charlton said the first major step would start on July 1 when young drivers would undergo a more comprehensive practical test before being granted a probationary licence.
"We want to teach novices how to drive and we plan to do that by implementing over the next two years a licensing system which produces a higher level of behind-the-wheel competence," he said.
"A new graduated driver training system, to be introduced over the next two years, will ultimately mean novice drivers must demonstrate by the use of a log book that they have had sufficient supervised time behind the wheel.
"Later this year, or early next year, we also intend to enhance the training phase by allowing young people to apply for their learners permit at age 16, nine months earlier than under the present system.
"International research has shown that those who begin learning to drive at age 16 have a substantially lower involvement in road crashes than those who start later.
"The log book system will prepare new applicants for their practical driving test because they will have experienced driving under a range of conditions such as at night, on unsealed roads, in the wet, at higher speeds, in peak hour traffic, on freeways or on open country roads.
"They will have spent a yet-to-be-determined number of hours behind the wheel under the supervision of a licensed driver.
"The period of driving under a provisional licence, with ‘P' plates, will be extended to a minimum of two years, with restrictions on speed and blood alcohol concentration limits.
"In taking this direction, WA is following the world's latest best practice in driver training."
Youth Minister Mr Board welcomed today's release of the directions paper and said it highlighted the influences that form young people's attitudes to road safety.
"Parents and other adults have a major impact on the attitudes of young people to road safety," Mr Board said.
"Children notice when their parents behave aggressively towards other road users or whether they wear their seat belts.
"Long before young drivers ever get behind the wheel of a car they have been subjected to many influences. We must make sure these influences are positive."
Mr Board said young people had clearly identified road safety as a priority issue in nearly all of the youth forums conducted around the State by the Office of Youth Affairs.
"Young people want to have a say and they want to be able to help eliminate road crashes as a major cause of death and injury to young people in WA," he said.
"It is important we listen to them and that is why we will be establishing a young road users' taskforce, so we can improve consultation with young people and be able to hear on a regular basis what they have to say."
Mr Board said the network of youth advisory councils being established around the State would also be used to obtain regular feedback and input to future policy directions from young Western Australians.
The Ministers said community action on road safety would be complemented by mass media advertising, heavy penalties and strong police enforcement as part of the Road Safety Council's role in co-ordinating road safety programs.
The Way Ahead: Road Safety Directions for Youth in Western Australia is available from the Road Safety Council by telephoning (08) 9320 9508.
Media contacts: Doug Cunningham 9321 7333 and Peter Harris 9222 9211