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New ‘R’ plates will shortly begin appearing on Australian roads.

The ‘R’ stands for ‘return’, with the plates signifying to other road users that the driver is getting back behind the wheel after a traumatic road-experience.

It aims to prompt road users to give the driver more space and patience.

“Returning to the road can be a scary and nerve-wracking experience, so even just having those feelings recognised could help people to recover faster.” commented Dr Jason Thompson, Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne.

The announcement of the initiative has prompted mixed responses, ranging from those who see benefit in utilising the plates, to others expressing concern that it may lead to drivers being targeted.

A survey of drivers has found that 73% of Australians had been affected by a road incident.

Notably, one in five drivers then reported feeling vulnerable after returning to driver following a time of period off the roads.

Other survey results confirmed that whilst a majority of drivers feel confident on the roads, 43% have experienced a loss of confidence at times.

When learning to drive, two-thirds of Australians reported feeling safer on the roads due to having their ‘L’ or ‘P’ plates displayed.

The plates have been launched by ‘mycar’ which is an Australia-wide service and repair company.

The plates include a QR code which links to support service, and can be downloaded or ordered via ‘mycar.com.au’.

Therefore, ‘R’ plates are a third-party initiative, as opposed to an official item sanctioned by state road authorities.

The company has sought to petition drivers, to enable the plates to be backed by a government regulator, and thus adopted and recognised nationwide.

At this stage, the plates can be deemed similar to choosing to display a ‘Baby on Board’ sign in the rear window of a vehicle.

Comparatively, drivers on learners or provisional drivers’ licences are obligated to clearly display their ‘L’ or ‘P’ plates on the front and rear of their vehicle.

The letter on the plate must not be hidden or obscured.

Not displaying ‘P’ plates as required carries an on-the-spot fine of $275 and 2 demerit points.

Under regulation 119(1) of the Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Regulation 2017 (NSW), a maximum penalty of a conviction and a $2,200 fine is applicable.

Not displaying ‘L’ plates as required also carries an on-the-spot fine of $275 and 2 demerit points.

Under regulation 15(1)(b), a maximum penalty of a conviction and a $2,200 fine is also applicable.

The maximum penalties become relevant where a penalty infringement notice for the offence is court-elected to be heard in the Local Court.

A driver who receives such a fine, may also seek to request a review of the fine with Revenue NSW.

Details provided in a request for review may include details, which will be checked against the information provided by the reporting officer, or evidence of a good driving record.

AUTHOR Poppy Morandin

Poppy Morandin is the managing law clerk and an integral part of the team of criminal lawyers at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia . She's also a part of CDLA's content article production team. Poppy is passionate about law reform and criminal justice.

View all posts by Poppy Morandin