P-Plates. A right of passage for every dumb bastard.


I’m seeing pictures on facebook of godchildren and nieces proudly holding their P-plates in front of their parents’ cars. Congratulations darling, you are about to get fat, vote for wars in Iraq, buy a house out where the government will abandon the sewer, spend more on transport than housing, and you now have a one-in-ten chance of dying or killing someone in a car crash. Let’s make you a cake!


I’m talking about young people getting drivers licences in Australia where only token instruction is given with regards to the rights and concerns of vulnerable users of footpaths, or cyclists. Pedestrian crossings have been all but phased out. The custom is for drivers to enter driveways in a manner that expects pedestrians to step back and allow them off of the carriageway. Sentencing reflects community values, meaning you can door or run over a cyclist and expect to walk free. It’s a complete mess.

Here is a proud moment in my life, when Santa brought my kids their first bikes. Knowing the eldest will soon be asking for driving lessons, I’m wondering how I will cope.


  1. James says:

    I’m glad your on the ACP advisory panel. We think alike on many issues.

  2. matthew says:

    I thought to myself- one in 10 chance of dying or killing someone: that is clearly just a made up number you plucked from the top of your head.
    BITRE via Wikipedia have 2013 road deaths per 100,000 population at 5.13, which is the lowest it’s ever been. Using my not very competent at maths technique if I multiply that by 81 (current life expectancy) then I get the chance of being killed (or killing I suppose) to be 1/236. Surprisingly high.
    Perhaps someone with better understanding of statistics than me could validate/totally rubbish what I’ve said?

    • Steven says:

      10% is a bit steep. There is a 1 in 40 chance that a road accident will be your own door to heaven. Accounting for single vehicle accidents, there might be a 1 in 80 chance that you’ll take someone with you. It’s probably more like a 1 in 25 chance that you’ll kill or be killed.

    • James says:

      The thing to remember is that these are only statistics, and apply to “average” people. If you chose to be different, your chances will likely be different. Much of the uncertainty can be modified, controlled, reduced or eliminated by making better decisions.
      One of the reasons I don’t pay much attention to “safety” features promoted for motorvehicles. I don’t intend to crash or to be crashed into, so the need for the safety features diminshes dramatically. It’s the people who put so much emphasis on the safety features you need to be careful of, in my opinion. They likely have a bad record already, and are trying to mitigate for a future bad record.

      • Steven says:

        you want to better your odds however you can. Less travel all round, defensive driving, more cycling and walking via off-road and protected networks, use the train or bus where you can do this instead of going by car, and using a 5-star safety rated car if circumstances force you to drive. You’re not the sharpest tool in the shed James, so stop listening to yourself and listen to me 🙂

    • James says:

      Unless your odds are so damn good that there’s little point wasting valuable time and resources improving them.
      Steven, you need to ride more and eat less. Chances are you’ll die from a weight related illness long before you die from a transport crash.
      Who’s the dull tool? (I could trade insults all day, if you like. I’m a regular where flame wars reign supreme – but you’d come out looking so battered and bruised, your wife wouldn’t recognise you!)

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