Daily Mercury

Researcher argues punishing young drivers can go too far

ONE researcher says people should think twice before saying P-platers do not care about road rules.

University of New South Wales Transport and Road Safety researcher Associate Professor Teresa Senserrick said the issue was deeper than that and a driver's licence made up part of a young person's identity and autonomy.

"When you don't have a lot of money and you don't have a lot of options, being able to give your friend a ride is a really important thing," she said.

"It's part of young people's place in the community, as much as anything."

Ms Senserrick said research showed young drivers were more likely to take risks, but this did not make up the majority of young people.

She said there was an over-representation of young drivers involved in crashes who were going too fast for the conditions.

"A lot of this is driven by errors and misjudgement and a lack of awareness," she said.

"We can tie this to age and developmental factors."

She said making a "punishment" system, with higher penalties and a "zero tolerance" attitude, would undermine the philosophy that young drivers needed to be out there driving in low-risk conditions so they were better protected when driving in high-risk conditions.