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VicRoads launches P-plater banned-car website

Application required: P-platers looking to drive the new Holden Cruze 1.4-litre turbo need to apply for an exemption from the ban on forced-induction engines for young drivers.

Online database of cars banned for Victorian P-platers now on VicRoads’ website

General News logo24 Mar 2011

VICTORIA’S roads authority, VicRoads, has launched a new online public database identifying cars probationary drivers can and cannot legally drive under Victoria’s P-plate prohibited vehicle legislation.

Legislation that came into effect on July 1, 2007, banned P-platers in Victoria from driving vehicles with eight-cylinder engines, turbocharged and supercharged petrol cars, modified vehicles and certain high-performance six-cylinder vehicles. Turbo-diesel vehicles were, however, still permitted.

The new database on www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/ pplatecars allows users to filter by make, model and year, as well as factors such as price, doors, transmission, fuel type, ANCAP safety rating and fuel economy.

The extensive list covers almost every car on sale in Australia, with some data dating back as far as 1959. The list allocates each vehicle a status of ‘approved’, ‘banned’, ‘application required’ or ‘under review’.

In a statement announcing the new database, Victorian roads minister Terry Mulder said that the database would simplify the process of purchasing an approved vehicle, while the aim of the legislation was to ultimately get P-platers out of high-performance vehicles.

“The new website enables drivers to instantly check whether the car is banned or not. It will be a helpful resource for P-platers when buying their first car,” he said.

“It will also help P-platers check whether a car they plan on borrowing is OK for them to drive.

“Young drivers are over-represented in the Victorian road toll, making up 28 per cent of all driver fatalities. A proportion of this can be attributed towards inexperienced drivers handling high performance vehicles.”

The blanket-ban caused a storm of controversy when it came into effect, with many manufacturers claiming that it discriminated against cars with ‘downsized’, small-capacity turbo engines that were designed to improve fuel economy, not increase performance.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) was also scathing of the new laws upon their introduction, with chief executive Andrew McKellar saying at the time that there was no evidence the laws would improve safety for new drivers.

“To be banning vehicles on the basis that they constitute some sort of safety risk to young drivers when in fact, quite the contrary, we are talking about brands with some of the best safety track records going around, just highlights the ludicrous nature of the regulations,” he said.

The Victorian government responded to these volleys by introducing changes to the legislation in 2009, exempting forced-induction vehicles with a power-to-weight ratio of less than 100kW a tonne, or “family type” vehicles (rather than “sports type” vehicles) with a power-to-weight ratio of between 100kW and 125kW per tonne.

Vehicles with ‘downsized’ engines such as the popular 1.4TSI Volkswagen Golf and the all-new 1.4-litre turbo Holden Cruze can therefore escape the ban, although P-platers who want to drive one of these cars still needs to apply for an exemption through VicRoads.

The applicant has to have a copy of the exemption letter at all times when driving the vehicle.

First-time drivers can also still apply to VicRoads for an exemption if the only car in the family is on the banned list. Young drivers may also be exempted on the grounds of employment requirements.

P-plate drivers who are caught behind the wheel of a prohibited vehicle are hit with a $239 on-the-spot fine and incur three demerit points.

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