Independent and FREE - 2021 Best Online Publication

Reckless P platers wreaking havoc on the beach

Independent and FREE – 2021 Best Online Publication (Qld Country Press)

Reckless P platers wreaking havoc on the beach


Jane Stephens: P plater drivers are wreaking havoc on the beach and should be banned

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He was all swagger behind the steering wheel. Brash and bold, quick to take off at the lights and impatient in the line of traffic.

In a hurry. Restless. Pushy.

Like so many of his kind, this P plater needed to be reminded of his position in the pecking order of road users – the requirement to play a part, to be courteous and to make room; that dominating the road will just lead to misery for others and possibly for himself.

P drivers need a reality check.

The current petition asking to ban them from driving on beaches is long overdue.

Too many are reckless on the sandy stretches at Inskip Point, Teewah and Double Island and on Fraser. They have not earned the right yet. There is no need for them to be there.

Anyone who has enjoyed those wild, free spaces (as I have) has a P plate story to tell that always includes a near miss or witnessing some kind of craziness on the sand.

Taking them off the beaches would be a fresh reset nearly 15 years after the State Government brought in specific young driver rules.

In 2007, a flashpoint was reached.

They were then twice as likely to die on the road as those aged over 25. Longer time served in the learning phase was deemed to be needed and logbooks began to be kept, with limits on behaviour and passenger numbers introduced.

The clamps on newbies became a new normal.

But it’s time to review their liberties again.

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Let’s not forget that P stands for provisional. That means temporary, tentative or conditional.

As of June last year – the most recent stats available – there were 173,642 P1 and P2 drivers registered in Queensland.

The holders of these licences are in transition. They are learning the ropes and gaining their stripes.

Their time will come.

But so many don’t act like it. They drive it like they stole it.

What other group of drivers marks the death of one of their number by doing burnouts and donuts? What other cohort would put themselves and everyone else in harm’s way in a public space just for a buzz and a laugh?

At the time of writing, 46 people have died on Queensland roads this year. This time last year we had only lost 25. We are in for a bad road toll year, it would appear.

Transport and Main Roads figures show that P drivers were involved in crashes in Queensland that caused 60 deaths in the past year. That is more than involved oldies.

Demanding more of them is required: more learning, more checks, more time served.

Let’s make the beach ban petition the start of a renewed desire to keep our provisional drivers and those who share the driving spaces with them in one piece.

It just makes sense.

Jane Stephens is a USC journalism lecturer, media commentator and writer.

The petition can be found here: