POLL: P-plate extension 'not the answer'

TWO Border driving instructors have disputed a suggestion that extending probationary licences to seven years is the best way to cut Victoria’s road toll.

Total Control Driving School’s David Kennedy and Belvoir Driving School’s Ted Hargreaves said better driver education was the key to improved road safety.

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill wants the community to consider forcing young drivers to stay on probationary licences until they are 25.

Such a move would mean someone who got their licence at 18 would have to drive with a zero blood alcohol level for seven years.

Mr Hill cited statistics that revealed 40 per cent of people aged 20 to 25 who were killed or injured on Victorian roads were victims of drink-driving.

Mr Hargreaves and Mr Kennedy agreed there were considerable benefits from a longer zero blood alcohol period, but said it needed to be combined with better training.

Mr Kennedy said he was not arguing that case “to line my pockets”.

“It’s more so people have got some idea of how they can put themselves in a defensive position rather than really having no idea at all,” he said.

Mr Kennedy said he did assessments for Roads and Maritime Services in NSW for older drivers.

“When you’re 85 you have to take a driving test in NSW,” he said.

“Most of the older drivers will take a refresher course before they do the test.”

Mr Kennedy said the benefit of further driver training was knowing how to get in a better position when making a right-hand turn.

“You see people drive out and they turn their wheels and are facing the oncoming traffic, but they can be in a better position if they didn’t do that if they move out a different way,” he said.

“The things that we teach in our driving lessons cover defensive techniques and make people more hazard aware.”

Mr Kennedy said that would be of greater benefit than someone being penalised through being forced to stay on their P-plates for seven years until they’re 25.

“I spent 20 years in the police force as well — I was a crash investigator and was in the highway patrol,” he said.

“I know where Mr Hill might be coming from but I don’t think by keeping younger drivers on their P-plates will help.”

Mr Hargreaves said drivers should be retested every 10 years.

“That way everybody’s up to date, they know they have to do everything correct otherwise they won’t have a licence to get around with,” he said.

Mr Hargreaves said it did not matter what the situation, “even in your workplace everybody needs to be updated”.

“It just surprises me that something along those lines hasn’t been instigated.”

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