South Australia mandates special driving licence for high-powered vehicles beginning December 1, 2024 –

According to a report by Australia’s Drive, South Australia has become the first state to introduce a new legislation that mandates a special ‘U Class’ driving licence specifically for ultra high-powered vehicles (UHPV), which will come into effect on December 1, 2024.

An UHPV is defined as having a power-to-weight ratio of at least 375 PS (370 hp or 276 kW) per tonne (1,000 kg), with a gross vehicle mass of less than 4.5 tonnes. Around 200 models are said to fall into this category, but buses and motorcycles are exempt from it.

The ‘U Class’ licence category was introduced as an amendment to the Motor Vehicles Regulations 2010 in late 2022, but the state government is now confirming a date for its implementation. To obtain one, drivers are required to complete and online training course, which is currently being developed. They must also have held a regular car licence for at least three years to be eligible.

Besides introducing a new licence class, drivers can also be fined up to AUD5,000 (about RM15,000) if they deliberately disable automated assist systems such as ABS, AEB, ESC and traction control in an UHPV. There are exemptions to this, such as if the vehicle is stuck or being drive on loose surfaces, or if the driver is unaware that such systems were disabled, but these will need to be proven.

Meanwhile, if a driver crashes while in “sport mode” or with traction control disabled in built-up areas, and that incident results in serious harm or death, the driver will be charged with an “aggravated offence” which comes with new harsher penalties, The Drive reports.

Prior to the amendments, the charge of “aggravated driving without due care causing death” carried a maximum 12-month jail penalty and six-month driving disqualification. This has now been revised to seven years in jail and three years of disqualification.

These changes come after the South Australian government pledged to amend its road laws following the death of 15-year-old Sophia Naismith, who was tragically struck and killed by an out-of-control Lamborghini Huracan driven by Alexander Campbell in 2019.

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