Major change for millions of Aussies renewing their driver's licence

The proposed change is part of an initiative to clean up Queensland's roads after a particularly deadly year.

Millions of drivers might soon be required to sit an online test when renewing their licence as part of a proposed safety plan initiated by the Queensland state government.

The state's Transport Minister Mark Bailey said a "refresher course" on road rules is being considered for motorists as part of a major overhaul aimed to reduce the number of road deaths following a deadly year on Queensland roads.

Last year, the Sunshine State recorded its worst year of road fatalities in 13 years with 299 lives lost, the Courier Mail reported. The alarming statistics prompted a roundtable discussion earlier this year where potential changes to current road rules were discussed.

Driver with hands on steering wheel.
Queensland motorists might soon have to sit a test before renewing their licence. Source: Getty

Refresher driving test in the works

The government is still determining what the refresher content will look like, but it could include a test, a video, or an information booklet, it's been reported.

The small test would likely consist of "a range of questions" that cover recent road rules and any changes, Mr Bailey told ABC Radio Brisbane on Monday.

"It's designed to be a refresher course, that people would look to do in an easy online way, that gives you a good review of what's happened in the last four or five years, since you got your licence last time," he explained.

While the potential changes were expected to be further announced earlier this week, Mr Bailey's office appears to now be backing away from the prospect of an online test, with a spokesperson telling Yahoo News Australia on Tuesday the idea was being "misconstructed".

Changes to speeding offences also being considered

Other ideas include an immediate licence suspension for high-range speeding offences. Currently there is often a 21-day wait period before the suspension kicks in. This means motorists who are caught travelling more than 40km/h over the limit would soon be immediately banned from driving.

"I think getting that kind of a driver off the road as quickly as possible would be a positive measure," Mr Bailey said. "There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever".

Three lanes of cars in traffic on Queensland road.
Queensland recorded the highest number of road related deaths in 13 years in 2022. Source: Getty

The transport minister said speed is often a contributing factor to many fatal crashes so "harsher penalties" may be required.

"Thankfully we are off to a far better start to the year on our roads in 2023 but we know how quickly that can change, which is why we need to do all we can to make our roads safer," he said, the Courier Mail reported.

Queensland government's long-term road safety strategy

A Ride to Zero program was also launched on Monday to address motorcycle safety. The initiative will develop mentoring programs, offer support and provide new resources for motorcycling organisations.

Last year, the Queensland government also announced a steep fine increase for some common road offences as part of their 10-year road safety strategy, which focuses on saving lives on Queensland Roads.

The new penalties in Queensland included an increase running a red light from $413 to $575 and travelling 31-40km over the speed limit from $643 to $1,078 among others. Those busted using their phone while driving are now fined $1,078 instead of $413. Not wearing your seatbelt property will also incur the same hefty penalty.

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