B.C.’s Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) was implemented to develop driving skills in a safe, step by step manner. Today, they are a widely accepted, effective safety measure. The systems that have been evaluated have been found to be very effective in reducing crashes and injuries, and public acceptance is high.
In the beginning a driver earns a Learner Driver licence that is subject to a set of restrictions that mandates the presence of an instructor and sets passenger restrictions to reduce the possibility of distractions. There are hours of the day restrictions as well, although midnight to 5:00 am is probably a time when most of them are sound asleep by personal choice.
After a year of practice with a supervisor and passing a road test the GLP Learner becomes a Novice and restrictions are relaxed in comparison to the Learner. A passenger restriction of one person applies unless the Novice is accompanied by an instructor.
In the case of both the Learner and the Novice restrictions of zero blood alcohol, prohibition on the use of electronic devices while driving and the requirement to display a new driver sign apply.
After passing another road test, the successful Novice will be issued a full privilege driver’s licence. Of course, any driver may be the subject of restrictions if there is a need for them. Examples of these restrictions include such things a the requirement to wear corrective lenses or to be fitted with a prosthesis or leg brace. This document lists the possible restrictions on page 115.
At the onset of the GLP program new drivers who disobeyed any of the restrictions were ticketed under section 25(15) of the Motor Vehicle Act. A conviction carried both a fine and penalty points.
As new drivers are subject to lower thresholds for prohibition from accumulated penalty points there was soon a large number of new drivers who had lost their licences for failing to display new driver signs. The solution was to implement division 30.13 and later division 30.10 in the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations which did not result in penalty points for failing to display, only fines.
Police were encouraged to use the new regulation for driver sign violators instead of section 25(15).
Of B.C.’s 3.3 million licenced drivers, over a quarter million of them are Learner or Novice drivers. That’s about 1 in 12. I suspect that we should be seeing more new driver signs displayed on vehicles around us as we drive.
Of course that depends on who you ask. There are many opinions about the display of new driver signs, including some well qualified people who feel that the N sign should not be required.
This article was actually prompted by the inquiry from a friend whose teenaged daughter asked him for permission to ride with friends contrary to their licence restrictions. He refused to give her permission and began to search for what the repercussions would be if she did not follow the rules thinking that they would be serious ones.
Really, the worst thing that can happen aside from a ticket under 25(15) for the driver is having the police prohibit the driver from proceeding until licence conditions are met. He could receive a telephone summons to come and pick up his daughter from the side of the highway.
Many of our problems on the highway result from people who treat the rules as something to follow as long as it is convenient. If it isn’t convenient, they do as they please. Sadly, this lesson is one that is passed down easily and followed without further thought by new drivers.