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LIV drives licence push

Briefs

Cite as: (2005) 79(4) LIJ, p. 15


The Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) will continue to drive for a revamp of licence laws for new drivers, despite the state government rejecting the proposal.

LIV president Tory Strong said graduated licensing programs for new drivers – including reducing the age of obtaining a licence to 17 years, night curfews and restricted passenger numbers – had been tried and tested overseas.

“I think if the government has time to look at the proposal properly and consider it as part of the wider investigations into licensing, it might realise, when it sees the statistics, that such a program would have merit,” she said.

“We are going to be involved in further discussion with the TAC [Transport Accident Commission] and RACV ...we are definitely interested in pursuing the idea and working it further.”

A discussion paper developed by the LIV’s Litigation and Criminal Law Sections concluded that graduated licensing programs could significantly reduce deaths of probationary drivers.

In 2003, 24 per cent of drivers killed in Victoria were aged between 18 and 24, yet they represented only 14 per cent of total licence holders. Also, 46 per cent of fatal crashes involving 18-year-old first year drivers occurred between 11pm and 5am.

In New Zealand, which introduced night curfews and passenger restrictions in 1987, road fatalities and injuries for new drivers had dropped by about 23 per cent.

But the state government ruled out such initiatives, saying “there is strong evidence that lowering the licence age increases the risk of road accidents”.

“The government is not convinced of the practicality of driver curfews or passenger restrictions, or that these proposals are widely supported among the Victorian public,” a spokeswoman for Transport Minister Peter Batchelor said.

The state government at the time of writing was compiling a draft discussion paper on young driver safety and said it would consider all submissions.

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