Home' Journeys : Dec2015 Jan2016 Contents Street smart
We asked – What restrictions, if any, do you think
could be introduced to improve safety for P1 drivers?
For example ... should there be restrictions on having
other young people as passengers? Or on driving late
Sharing the road – lessons from
across the Tasman
Interviews and photos: Alice Hansen
Irecently returned from my third cycling trip in three years to
New Zealand’s South Island. I live in Hobart, so why would I
travel all that way to go cycling, when some of the world ’s best
riding is to be had right here in Tasmania?
There are several reasons why cycling the roads of New Zealand is
such a pleasure, whereas in Tasmania the experience is often less
than satisfying. Both islands have awesome scenery, narrow twisty
roads, challenging hills and highly variable weather. Often (but
not always) there is better cycling infrastructure in New Zealand
wider shoulders, dedicated cycle trails and bike lanes – but the
major difference is in the behaviour of drivers when encountering
New Zealand drivers are courteous and careful, slowing down
behind cyclists, waiting until it is safe to pass and then passing
with often a whole lane clearance and a cheery wave or a friendly
toot on the horn. Compare this to Tasmania, where traffic tries to
impatiently squeeze by, often with only centimetres to spare, and
frequently with a shower of abuse or, in some cases, hurled objects.
Why, when the two destinations have such similar environments,
can drivers in one country quite happily live with the presence of
cyclists on the roads, but in the other place, find them so difficult
to deal with?
Tasmanians seem able to cope with huge log
trucks clogging small country roads, unsilenced
motorcycles roaring through World Heritage
Areas, road closures so that cars can race on them
and a seeming inability of vehicle users to obey
simple traffic rules, yet they become incensed
when a cyclist holds them up for a few seconds.
Tasmania has become a place where only the most seasoned
cycle tourists visit because of the awful reputation of our drivers.
Fortunately (and unfortunately) the solution to the problem lies
not in vast expenditure in infrastructure to assist cyclists and
motorists to co-exist – it lies in changing the attitudes of drivers.
My observations of traffic in New Zealand suggest that good habits
are catching. It is not just the New Zealanders who are generally
polite and careful – the large numbers of tourists on the roads in
rented cars and campervans appear to quickly pick up the local
habits and are equally courteous on the roads.
Coming from Europe, I notice how much
bigger and more powerful cars are in
Australia. It is not uncommon to see kids, just
given their P plates, cruising around in their very
powerful and fast ‘race’ cars. In my opinion, there
should be a lower maximum engine power limit
for young drivers, with more strict control, until they gain a
reasonable amount of road experience (maybe around 100 HP,
as it is in some places in Europe). Luka Barbaca
Tasmania should introduce mandatory
driving lessons as part of gaining P1 plates.
These should be with accredited driving school
instructors, beginning with a minimum of 10
hours and up to 20 hours. This way, young drivers
do not pick up the ingrained habits of their parents.
Ibelieve P1 drivers should be allowed to drive
to the set road speed any where, because I have
seen many dangerous situations develop where
traffic is held up behind P-plate drivers. If a
driver is good enough to get P1 plates then they
should also be sensible enough to drive at the speed
that is appropriate for the conditions at the time. Experience
comes with driving. Roger Cain
For P1 Plate drivers perhaps there should be
a restriction of no more than one friend in
the car with them? Pets can also be a distraction
particularly in the front passenger area.
Driving is a privilege as opposed to a right.
That’s most important. I believe that
every vehicle driven by a P1 driver should
be demonstrated as roadworthy. This should
be a restriction placed on all new drivers.
If a P1 driver is caught hooning or breaking the
law in any way they should be reverted back to
L-plates and have to begin the process again. This
should be a good deterrent and a costly process for
young drivers, so that they take road safety seriously.
8 Journeys DECEMBER 2015 / JANUARY 2016
IN OUR COMMUNITY
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