Young drivers may face a higher risk of road trauma due to a potential lack of supervised hours behind the wheel this year due to COVID restrictions.
Queensland Learner drivers who are under 25 must reach 100 hours of supervised driving including 10 hours of night driving, to get their P1 licence but there are now fears that many will have fallen behind having been off the roads these past few months.
Research from RACQ suggests that young drivers and riders, aged 16 to 24 years, are 60 per cent more likely to be involved in a serious crash than licensed older adult drivers and riders, aged 25 to 59 years.
Olivia Mills was driving through the Cairns CBD on Tuesday 26 May when another young driver ran a red light and sped through an intersection at 70km/h, t-boning her vehicle, leaving her with a shoulder tear, nerve damage to her neck and an abdominal tear.
The Cairns young driver said the accident was preventable and the experience and her injuries have stripped her of her own confidence behind the wheel.
“I have only driven a couple of times since and my car was written off,” she said.
“People can be safe on the roads by avoiding distraction and being mindful while driving. When you get behind the wheel of a car you have that responsibility not just for yourself but for others on the road too.
“But no matter how good of a driver you are, an accident can be caused by someone else’s behaviour and you have to be ready for that.”
Ms Mills’ injuries have stopped her taking part in her usual adventure-packed weekends.
“My partner is an up-and-go type of person and I find it hard to sit still so not being able to do anything on the weekends for a while and the hours of rehab ahead of me, it’s going to be really tough,” she said.
Ms Mills is receiving physiotherapy the other driver’s CTP insurer is funding.
Slater and Gordon Far North and North Queensland Associate Sarah Singh said some new and learner drivers would be disadvantaged, having not had the ability to practice driving while supervised on a regular basis due to COVID restrictions.
“Young drivers are already at risk of being involved in road accidents and we know they are over-represented in road crash fatality and injury statistics. If you consider a recent lack of hours on the road and limited driving experience this year, some of them are likely to be behind the eight ball,” Ms Singh said.
“It is crucial that young drivers have the ability to get their hours up to 100 hours so they can apply for a provisional licence, and make up for lost time so they can be as safe as possible on the roads.
“The impact of an accident on a person’s life at any age, is significant and can be devastating.”
Ms Singh said all road users had a responsibility to keep other road users safe on the roads.