More driving practice leads to fewer crashes: study

AT THE WHEEL: Cassandra Graham thinks the 120 hours of driving practice is a good idea. Photo: Kate Healy.
AT THE WHEEL: Cassandra Graham thinks the 120 hours of driving practice is a good idea. Photo: Kate Healy.

FOR many young drivers, clocking up 120 hours' practice before undertaking a driving test seems a daunting task, even unreachable.

However, new research has shown that since the laws requiring learner drivers to clock up 120 hours have been introduced, young driver safety has dramatically improved.

Joint research by the state government and VicRoads shows since the Graduating Licensing System has been introduced, young drivers have become a lot safer on the roads.

Probationary drivers have been involved in 23.4 per cent fewer crashes in the first year of holding their licence, from 807 to 1053, since the new laws passed midway through 2009.

In the second year of holding a licence, the amount of drivers who clocked up the mandatory 120 hours were involved in 397 crashes, compared with 484 crashes for second year drivers before the new rules were introduced.

The statistics were measured over an 18-month period.

P-platers have also recorded fewer traffic offences involving speeding and handheld phones.

Cassandra Graham, 19, who is scheduled to sit her probationary drivers test at the end of the month, said it was a good idea to make young drivers practice for at least 120 hours before they drove on their own.

She is a participant in Lead On Ballarat's L2P learner driving program, which aims to give people driving experience that they would otherwise have found it almost impossible to get.

"At first 120 hours seemed like it was so far away, I didn't think I would get there," she said.

"I think it's good though that they make young drivers do all the hours.

"You can think you are confident but you never really know until you actually get out on the road."

Lead On Ballarat executive officer Vickie Coltman said the statistics showed just how important it was for young people to get the necessary practice. "Lots of young people don't have a lot of time.

"They think everything is going to happen tomorrow," she said.

"But the stats show, they absolutely have to do the practice for their own safety."

The report was collated over a four year period between 2006 and 2010.