Tim Schewe

Drivesmart column: People ignoring ‘N’ and ‘L’ driving restrictions

These youth aren't making the connections when they have the "N" designation

By Tim Schewe

“My girls attend high school and daily I watch as many of these students fill their cars with friends while displaying the ‘N’,” reports a reader. They go on to say that they spoke to their girls about this and the girls said that these young people just ignore that stipulation because no one checks and it is a nuisance being allowed to only carry one passenger.

These youth aren’t making the connections when they have the “N” designation as to what they are doing and the consequences there will be should they be involved in a collision.

Unfortunately, this reader is not telling me anything new, and it is not just the youth, it is the adults too. I once stopped a woman who was driving with an “L”, her husband and two children in car seats. Her licence restrictions allowed her only one passenger.

I was able to extend my vocabulary with some of the words that were directed at me after I served that ticket.

When the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) debuted in B.C., police took the view that there should be little leeway given to new drivers so that they would learn quickly that failing to follow the rules had significant consequences, which really meant loss of their licence for a period of time. It was hoped that if they learned this at the start of their driving career perhaps less correction would be needed later on.

Whether this policing attitude was prevalent or not, it soon became apparent that RoadSafetyBC was handing out a significant number of prohibitions.

New drivers face licence sanctions when they receive four to six penalty points and a moving violation coupled with failing to display a new driver sign put them there with one traffic stop. This resulted in the creation of a charging section for failing to display the sign that carried no points.

Failing to follow other restrictions still carries three points on conviction.

Is the system working? Maybe, but then there are multi-fatality crashes occurring. Had that driver followed the rules, perhaps there would have been fewer deaths, or even no collision as there would not have been an audience to perform for. Perhaps officers need to go back to issuing the three point ticket for all restriction violations and refusing to let the vehicle proceed until all is in order. Short term pain for long term gain.

Parents have the biggest stake in the solution. The police cannot set the attitude at home and it is their responsibility to see that young drivers follow all the rules. After all, they supply the permissions for both licences and vehicles until the youth reach age 18.


Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca

Cowichan Valley Citizen