Emergency

Reckless teens risk lives on roads

RUHEE KHAN AND SIMEN LONNING

Teenagers driving illegally without a driver’s licence are risking people’s safety on Australian roads.

Statistics from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics shows 147 teenagers under the age of 16 were killed in car crashes last year.

Teenagers think they won’t get caught

Research Fellow Peter Palamara of Curtin Monash Accident Research Centre says teenagers are driving under aged and unlicensed because they feel they won’t get caught.

“Like a lot of things on the roads it comes down to the extent to which you believe you’re going to get caught,” Mr Palamara said.

“The motivation to drive even though [teenagers] are unlicensed is probably stronger than the motivation to avoid being detected.”

He says jurisdictions in other states limit the sort of vehicles that novice drivers have access to, but previous research does not provide enough evidence to suggest a similar law is needed in Perth.

Mr Palamara says it’s not cars that crash, but drivers.

“Just because you drive a particular vehicle doesn’t mean the vehicle … itself is going to force you to crash.”

Boys take risks

Willetton Senior High School student advisor Phil Sherwood has dealt with several students involved in car crashes.

In February three Willetton students were injured and a man died in a crash.

Mr Sherwood said the students were in a high-powered vehicle.

“They just don’t understand the weight of the car and the power that it has.

“A lot of research says that boys take a lot of stupid risks.

“They think they are infallible, unbreakable.”

Mr Sherwood also knew of high school students driving mopeds without licences.

He said they probably did not understand they’ were in control of a weapon and if not used properly, it put everyone at risks.

“I think [teenagers] should be limited when they first get their licence to a specific powered car.”

Mr Sherwood said it would send a clear message to unlicensed drivers if the penalties were harsher.

“Maybe a 5-10 year ban would serve enough of a warning to say that it’s not worth it.”

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