From December this year, P-platers in New South Wales will be banned from using mobile phones in any capacity – which includes hands-free – following various changes to the state’s Graduated Licensing System (GLS) announced by the state’s Roads Minister, Duncan Gay.
As well as no longer being able to use mobile phones, the changes will see the current requirement of passing a Driver Qualification Test before graduating to an unrestricted licence scrapped, while the Hazard Perception Test needs to be passed earlier in the three-step graduated system.
Under the current GLS, the Hazard Perception Test needs to be passed in order to graduate from a P1 (green plates) to a P2 licence (red plates), but under the newly announced scheme – which comes into effect from November next year – learner drivers will need to pass the test before gaining their P1 licence, the first unsupervised licence in the three-tiered system.
Another change set to be implemented on 1 November, 2017, will see P2 drivers will be forced to wait an extra six months before graduating to an unrestricted licence each time they’re issued with an offence-related fine during their provisional licence period.
The changes relating to mobile phone use will be implemented 11 months earlier than the shake-up to the Mercedes-Benz GLS scheme; a move motivated by a recent spike in young drivers being killed in road accidents.
While the number of young people fatally injured on the state’s roads reportedly dropped during the 10 years to 2014, the annual 2015 figure of 233 has been described as a dramatic rise. So far this year, 21 young people have been killed on New South Wales roads.
"That is more than a rugby team that won't come home because of accidents which could have been avoided,” Minister Gay said during the announcement.