New laws ban all P-plate drivers from using phones in the car

VALUABLE LESSONS: Learner Mathew Dyet at his after school driving lesson with instructor Ray Blandford in Orange on Tuesday. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

VALUABLE LESSONS: Learner Mathew Dyet at his after school driving lesson with instructor Ray Blandford in Orange on Tuesday. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

All P-plate drivers will be banned from using any function on their phone, including GPS for directions, under new laws that take effect on Thursday.

Currently the ban covers learners and drivers on red-Ps, but now that will be extended to all P-platers.

Orange driving instructor Ray Blandford said mobile phones were a distraction to all drivers, particularly to novices.

“I sit at the traffic lights and watch people come up behind me with head in their laps. I’m thinking, “I hope you look up,” he said.

Mr Blandford said there was not a lot of difference between people talking to a passenger in the car than talking over a phone on Bluetooth but he said the new law was a valuable deterrent.

He said mobile phones were a distraction for all drivers.

I sit at the traffic lights and watch people come up behind me with their head in their laps. - Ray Blandford, driving instructor

NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury said the motoring group backed the changes – even if it meant P-platers could no longer use the GPS component in their phone to give them directions.

Mr Khoury said there were other forms of GPS available, “even if they do come at a cost.”

“They probably shouldn’t be using the phone for its GPS component anyway, and obviously with the new legislation you can’t do it.”

He said that while older drivers could be distracted by using hands-free mobile phones in the car the organisation did not support extending the blanket ban to full-licence holders.

“You cannot be in the passenger seat with people for their whole driving life,” he said.

“People need to demonstrate they have the maturity.”

Orange and Cabonne Council road safety officer Andrea Hamilton-Vaughan said there had been many cases in Orange where young drivers being distracted had led to fatalaties.

She said banning all P-platers from using phones, even for getting directions, would help save lives.

“They can’t do two things at once,” she said.

Mrs Vaughan-Hamilton said international evidence showed that restricting young drivers from using mobile phones saved lives.

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