Night driving and P drivers
In the first year after getting a licence, probationary drivers are more at risk of being involved in a crash than almost any other driver on the road, and many of these crashes occur at night.
What are the facts?
- Probationary drivers in the first year of driving are three times more likely than experienced drivers to be involved in a crash where someone is killed or injured at night (between 10 pm – 6 am).
- Night driving is more risky than driving during the day, as visibility is limited and the ability to detect and respond to potential dangers is reduced.
- Night driving often involves driving to and from social functions, where people might be drinking alcohol, therefore most night driving coincides with high alcohol times, which is when there is a greater likelihood of intoxicated drivers being on the roads.
- Young drivers who are driving for recreational reasons – not driving for any reasons than to go for a drive, are more likely to be involved in crashes, especially at night.
- It is also likely your young driver will be driving around after a day of study or work and potentially a bit of sport – they might not know it, but the chance is that they’ll be fatigued.
What are the rules?
- As part of the Victorian Graduated Licensing System, all learners are required to undertake a minimum of 20 hours of driving at night.
- There are currently no restrictions on probationary drivers driving at night in Victoria, but probationary driver night driving restrictions do apply in other states due to the very high crash rates of P drivers at night.
What can parents do?
- Research shows that parents continue to have a high level of influence on their children after they turn 18. And contrary to what most parents believe, young people generally have a high level of respect and consideration for their parents – so parents can have a significant impact in ensuring their young driver’s safety.
- Negotiate with your child to limit their late night driving in the first few months of getting their Ps. Agree that for the first three to six months of the probationary period there will be no late night driving (after 10 pm) without a parent supervising. This will have implications for both you and your child, but will mean that they will be safer and can eventually drive more safely at night on their own.
- All new probationary drivers have to comply with a zero blood alcohol limit and with passenger restrictions. For many people there is a strong temptation to drive after drinking if they have their car with them. If your child is going out to a place where alcohol will be consumed, it is safest if they do not take the car.
- All new probationary drivers are restricted to carrying one peer passenger aged 16 to 21 years. It is a good idea to either provide a ride for your child and their friends when they are out at night or help them arrange safe transport. This is so they won’t feel pressured to drive peers around, be tempted to drive after drinking alcohol or get into a car with a drunk driver.
- Establish arrangements for your children to call home for assistance if needed at any time of the night. It is important that young people feel that they can get you to help if they feel unsafe when they are out.
- Set some ground rules about the type of driving your new driver will be doing especially if they are using the family car, or if you have funded some of their car purchase or the running costs. The ground rules should include avoiding driving late at night (after 10 pm), and also only taking trips that are for a purpose and not just driving for fun.
“When my daughter got her P’s she was very keen to drive everywhere on her own. We negotiated for her to have access to the family car during the day, but for me to either drive her or supervise her on night time trips for the first few months. She realised that this was the condition of using the family car and was okay with it.”
“I agreed to help pay for my son’s car after he had been driving for six months on his P’s. He used my car for this first six months and it included not driving late at night on his own. I think it was a good deal.”