South Australia Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure

Frequently Asked Questions

Facts about the new rules for L and P drivers from 28 July 2014.

What are the laws?

Five changes to the Graduated Licensing Scheme will be introduced on 28 July 2014. Details of the laws are available here.

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What exemptions will be available?

A number of exemptions will be available for both the passenger and night-time driving restrictions. For more information go to GLS exemptions.

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Why is the Government bringing in these new laws?

To save lives. Young drivers continue to be over-represented in the road toll. Drivers and riders aged 16-19 are being killed and seriously injured on our roads at more than twice the rate of those aged 25 and above.

Young drivers at the P1 stage are at increased risk of a crash during their first year of driving unsupervised. This is not simply because of risk-taking behaviour, but also due to the inexperience of the driver. For instance, new drivers are still developing their ability to detect, accurately identify and quickly respond to risks or hazards while driving, and significant experience is needed before these skills improve and crash risk decreases.

For more information read THE FACTS.

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Do the passenger and night-time driving restrictions apply to both P1 and P2 drivers?

No. These restrictions only apply to P1 licence holders under the age of 25 years for the duration of their P1 licence, which is a minimum period of 12 months.

For more information read about THE NEW RULES.

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Do the changes apply to motorcyclists?

Night-time driving and passenger restrictions apply to all P1 licence holders under the age of 25 years, regardless of the class of vehicle.

The night-time driving restriction also applies to learner motorcyclists aged under 25 years who do not hold a full licence (for a car) or a P2 licence (for a car). This ensures that inexperienced learner motorcyclists receive the same level of protection as motorcyclists who hold a P1 licence.

For more information read about THE NEW RULES.

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Do other States also have these laws in place?

Yes. These laws bring South Australia in line with other States. Victoria, Queensland and NSW all have a form of passenger restriction for P1 drivers and Western Australia has a night driving restriction for P1 drivers. States including Tasmania, NSW, Queensland, Victoria and the ACT already have a longer provisional licensing period than South Australia.

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Who is a qualified supervising driver?

They could be your mum or dad or someone else that has held a full driver's licence for at least two years without disqualification. They must sit in the front passenger seat and meet drug and alcohol laws as if they are driving. (E.g. no drugs and no BAC or 0.05 or more.)

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Who are 'immediate family members'?

Your brother, sister, step-brother, step-sister, step-parent, guardian, step-grandparent, spouse, domestic partner, child or a person related to you according to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship rules.

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How do I get an exemption?

You do not need to apply for an exemption but you must be able to satisfy police that you meet the exemption criteria. You may wish to ask your employer or activity organiser for a note or letter confirming your need to carry passengers for work or to participate in an activity late at night. For more information go to EXEMPTIONS.

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Should there be more emphasis on driver training?

The changes are based on international research into the graduated licensing schemes (GLS) operating in the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. While research recognises the place of driver training and experience in a young driver's development, it has shown that a combination of GLS initiatives such as the night and passenger restrictions is likely to make a greater and more lasting contribution to young driver safety than expanding practical driver training programs.

Studies conducted over the last 35 years have also found that driver training courses that attempt to impart advanced skills such as skid control to novice drivers can result in the driver becoming overconfident, contributing to an increased crash risk.

An ability to perceive hazards is key to safe driving, and this is not easily taught in a controlled environment. The purpose of the GLS is to allow drivers to gradually accumulate safe driving experience in more demanding driving situations. The introduction of passenger and night driving restrictions are aimed at reducing risks for our least experienced drivers.

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Was the community consulted on these changes?

Yes. 1079 submissions were received from members of the community and road safety stakeholders when the GLS Discussion Paper was released for comment in late 2011. This feedback shaped the proposed initiatives. The proposals were supported by key stakeholders including the health sector, emergency services and the RAA.

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Will the minimum age for getting a provisional licence be increasing to age 18?

No. The minimum age for obtaining a provisional licence will remain at 17 years.

It is important to recognise that delaying the age of obtaining a provisional licence has significant safety benefits and this should be considered by young drivers and their parents and caregivers.

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Will the learner's permit age increase?

No. The minimum age for obtaining a Learner's Permit will remain at 16 years.

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Will the current learner period increase from 1 year to 2 years?

No. The minimum time to hold a learner's permit will remain at one year.

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Will the number of supervised driving hours required to be undertaken by learner's permit holders be increased?

No. The current minimum requirement of 75 supervised driving hours will stay the same.

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Will these changes be unfair – particularly to young rural South Australians?

The changes are aimed at protecting young drivers and passengers and are not intended to make life tougher. However, acquiring a driver's licence is one of the riskiest things people do in their lives.

Saving young people's lives must take precedence over concerns about mobility and inconvenience, particularly when passenger and night restrictions would apply only for 12 months.

Young drivers living in rural and regional communities will receive a proportionately greater safety benefit as a result of these changes as young drivers aged 16 to 19 years living in rural South Australia are 2½ times more likely to die or be seriously injured in a crash than their peers in metropolitan Adelaide.

Young South Australians are dying on our roads at greater rate than those in NSW, Vic, Qld, WA, Tas and ACT.

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Will the changes result in fewer employment options for young people?

No. Exemptions are available for employment purposes which include driving to or from work or in the course of employment.

Police and emergency services members, both paid and volunteer, are exempt from the night driving and passenger restrictions while on duty.

For more information go to EXEMPTIONS.

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Won't passenger restrictions affect designated driver schemes and car pooling opportunities?

Under the passenger restrictions, a P1 driver can carry immediate family members, as well as one peer passenger aged 16 to 20.

P1 drivers are also able to drive with more than one passenger aged 16 to 20, provided at least one of the passengers is acting as a Qualified Supervising Driver.

Passenger restrictions do not apply to drivers at the P2 stage and so they will not be affected by the restrictions, and may be able to assist with car pooling or agree to be a 'designated driver'.

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Do any P1 or P2 drivers currently have a night driving curfew?

Currently, a P1 or P2 driver who commits a serious disqualification offence will receive a licence disqualification. When they return from serving their disqualification they have a curfew condition for 12 months.

Serious disqualification offences include:

  • criminal offences e.g. causing death by dangerous driving
  • an offence that incurs four or more demerit points
  • a second speeding offence that incurs three or more demerit points
  • a red light offence and a speeding offence from the same incident
  • any offence committed by a person previously disqualified from driving.

The night-time driving restriction and the passenger restriction will replace the curfew for all P1 drivers aged under 25 years from 28 July 2014.

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