P-platers caught as new laws hit home
By SAMANTHA HEALY
TWEED'S top cop is disturbed by the number of P-plate drivers who have been busted since dramatic changes to laws came into effect on July 1. Prior to the changes being introduced, learner and provisional drivers were sent brochures outlining the changes to the display of plates, passenger restrictions and curfews, a ban on mobile phone use and speed limits. Tweed/Byron Local Area Commander Superintendent Michael Kenny said he did not accept that P-plate drivers were not aware of the changes, with one Tweed/%Byron police officer issuing 25 infringement notices in the first week of operation. "All 25 said to police they hadn't read or seen the RTA's letter that was sent to all P-platers, but I don't accept that. They couldn't have been living in a cave," he said. "Highway police are dealing with these offences and continually hearing 'I didn't know' but that's not an excuse. If there are some%people who genuinely don't know about the new laws they need to find out, because number-one, they were made to protect young drivers. and two, if the rules aren't followed there will be repercussions. "I know it's early days, but I don't accept that P-platers don't know what changes have come in." Most infringements were for speeding, while a small number were for not having P-plates fixed to vehicles correctly or at all. Highway patrol officer Senior Constable Brett Burns said he had fined about a dozen P-platers since July 1 who had failed to display%P-plates outside their car. "A lot may be genuinely ignorant, but there are others who purposely hide their plates so they can drive at 110km/h along the highway," Snr Const Burns said. "From July it was obvious the new laws were in force, because a lot of young drivers were doing the right thing displaying their plates on the outside of the car. But there are still those who are slow on the uptake and they are finding out the hard way with a $185 fine." Sen Const Burns said he pulled over a P-plate driver last weekend who was carrying three passengers all in their teens. "They said they weren't notified, but everyone in that car was of an age where they would have%received notification," he said. "Ignorance is not an excuse. Some drivers just think they won't get caught, but inevitably they will. "These changes are to benefit young drivers who are over-represented in road crashes. "While the majority do the right thing there will always be a few who snub their nose at the law."