Still learning to drive: Understanding the risks for P-plate drivers

Parents of P-platers still have a role to play in the ongoing education of their older children. Research shows that P-plate drivers are involved in more crashes than any other group of drivers and they are most at risk during the first year of driving.

Parents are well placed to influence their children to help them adopt safe driving practices. P-plate drivers are inexperienced in how to handle high-risk driving conditions like driving at night, driving in wet weather, and driving on high speed roads.

High risk conditions

There are a number of legal (and illegal) driving conditions that may be considered “high risk” for P-plate drivers. These include:

  • Driving with passengers
  • Driving at night
  • Distraction when driving
  • Poor weather conditions
  • High speed roads
  • Driver fatigue
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Parents are well-placed to discuss these issues with their children and help guide their children in adopting a “safety-first” approach to driving.

Restrictions for P-platers

Once your children have finally passed the driving test and won their hard-earned P-Plates, it’s important for them to keep in mind that there are still driving restrictions on their licence.

P-Platers are banned from driving certain types of high performance cars, but there are also other restrictions to keep in mind.

High performance car restrictions

Certain high performance cars are restricted for P-Platers for safety reasons. P-Platers (both P1 and P2) are not allowed to drive cars that have:

  • Power to tare mass ratios of greater than 130kW per tonne or,
  • Modified engines that need to be approved by an engineer or,
  • Other vehicles classified as high performance.

If you’re in any doubt, you can check the NSW government’s database of approved vehicles.

Other restrictions

There are a number of other restrictions on P-Plate drivers including:

  • Mobile phones: P1 drivers are not allowed to use mobile phones at all while driving – not even hands-free
  • Speeding: P1 drivers have a maximum speed is 90km/h where allowed (P2 drivers have a maximum of 100km/h), otherwise they must obey the driving speed as signed
  • No alcohol: P1 and P2 drivers are not allowed to drink anything prior to driving – they have a 0.0% alcohol limit
  • Late-night passengers: P1 drivers under the age of 25 can only carry one passenger under the age of 21 between 11pm and 5am
  • No Teaching learners: P1 and P2 drivers may not supervise Learner drivers
  • No Heavy towing: P1 Platers are only allowed to tow a maximum of a 250Kg trailer
  • No manual cars if learned on an automatic: P1 drivers are only allowed to drive cars with manual transmission if they passed their driving test with a manual car.
  • Display P-plates outside: P-Plates must be displayed on the outside of your car.

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