Punishing the young

These days you’re younger longer and a much bigger threat to society than even last century.

In most states you can’t get a licence until you’re 17. You’ll be on P-plates for three years and get fewer demerit points before you lose your licence.

And here’s the real kick in the teeth, in NSW at least, – many driving offences carry more points than the same offence committed by a holder of an unrestricted licence.

The minimum penalty for a P-plater caught speeding – even just a few km/h over the limit – is 4 points. 

That’s three months on the sidelines if you’re on red P-plates (the first year after you get a licence) and more than half your licence if you’re on green ones (years two and three).

Add in speed cameras generating fines for minor offences and we are getting situations of youngsters losing their licences without ever being pulled over by a cop.

Over a holiday period, with double demerit points, any speeding ticket, no matter how trivial, results in a licence suspension.

If you get a ticket you’re able to apply for leniency, which basically downgrades the offence to a warning. But you won’t get one without a good driving record, which can’t happen if you’re still on P-plates.

For young people starting out in the workforce or commuting to higher education, these penalties are crippling harsh, at a time where the only accidents I seem to hear about involve people who shouldn’t have been fastening a helmet strap or seatbelt anyway – the unlicensed and those operating unregistered vehicles.

A speed camera never catches those people. Speed cameras catch otherwise law-abiding folk, raising millions for governments and making it even harder for people to simply get on with their lives.