Friday, JULY 9, 2004
A PUSH to impose curfews on young drivers seems on the surface to be a legitimate reaction to young lives lost on Australian roads.
Few communities, Orange included, have been spared.
Accidents happen and tragically a mix of inexperience and a tendency to take risks means the young are often the casualties.
The remedy according to a United States road safety body is to ban Australian provisional drivers from night driving in their first six months.
The curfew will make NSW's road safety system more effective, the body believes.
And the claim can be matched with some compelling statistics.
Drivers aged 17 are almost four times more likely to be involved in a crash than older more experienced drivers.
Yet Orange Highway Patrol Sergeant Bernie Schulte points out that P-platers are not ogres and most do the right thing.
A curfew would penalise the young people obeying the road rules and despite a ban risk takers would continue to be risk takers.
And a curfew would be particularly onerous in a place like Orange, where unlike Sydney there is not a bus stop at the end of most streets.
There is much work to be done reduce the number of young people dying on Australian roads but putting the keys to the family car on the top shelf is not the answer.
Driver education must become a fundamental part of general schooling.
It should go beyond white boards and handouts.
It will be expensive but the stakes are already high.