The Globe and Mail has a story about about an eighteen-year old grade 12 student who is championing a proposal to require drivers who have a provisional license, like a G1 or G2, to display a sign with a “P” on it when they’re driving a car. He came up with the idea while on vacation in Australia where they have a similar requirement.
In most cases this wouldn’t be terribly newsworthy, but this isn’t most cases.
Alex Don has used his connections from when he was a page at the Ontario Legislature to garner political support for his proposal. According to the story, five MPPs are supporting this, along with City of Burlington councillors and the chief of Halton Regional Police Service. Also supporting him is a teacher at his high school who coached the school’s soccer team. Two boys on that team were killed in a car accident a couple of years ago. With all this support, there’s a fair chance that his proposal will be introduced as a private member’s bill by Kevin Flynn, MPP for Oakville, in February.
But will it actually result in safer roads? While I’d like to say it will, I fear it won’t. And it might actually have some unexpected consequences.
The intent of the “P” is to alert other drivers that there is a driver that’s still learning so they should be extra careful around them. But a driver who runs a red or blows through a stop sign isn’t going to change their behaviour just because the other car has a “P” on it – assuming they can even see it before the t-bone the learning driver.
And it won’t stop drivers with a G1 or G2 license from violating the provisions of their license, such as driving on 400-series highways or driving with a blood alcohol level greater than 0.0.
British Columbia has a similar program where new drivers are required to display an “N” for the first two years after getting their license. (They have to display an “L” while in the graduated licensing system.) Some parents there are concerned that their children – their daughters in particular – might be stalked by people who see the “N”, so they’re telling their children not to display the decal. If a new driver is caught without their “N”, they’re subject to a $109 fine, which these parents are prepared to pay.
If the “P” program is implemented in Ontario, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of parents here objecting for similar reasons, even if there aren’t any cases in BC to justify this concern.
Frankly, I’d rather see a program to increase enforcement of the existing traffic rules, particularly for people who don’t make proper stops at stop signs or run through red lights, than a program to put a “P” on cars driven by provisional drivers. I think it would be much more effective in reducing accidents and deaths on the roads.