P plates and L plates let other drivers know that you’re a learner or that you’ve just passed your test. They’re designed to let other road users know that you’re probably in need of a little bit of patience and that jumping on the horn immediately isn’t going to help anything.
But what if you’ve long passed your test and you need to let people know that you’re not having a great time on the road right now?
Enter the ‘R plate’.
This new type of plate has been cooked up by the folks at mycar — formerly Kmart Tyre & Auto — to help drivers who are ‘returning’ to the road after a long period of not driving.
In particular, this is aimed at drivers who have experienced some kind of trauma on the road and are perhaps not feeling at their most confident being back behind the wheel.
“We care for those with physical injuries from a road incident, but we rarely consider the mental toll road trauma can take,” mycar state.
They note that they launched the scheme to “recognise drivers returning to the road.”
“The R Plate signifies to other road users that the driver may need some extra care, giving them time and space to recover. Recovering drivers can confidently return to the road knowing they are in a supportive space,” they write.
R plates, according to mycar, are “not affiliated with any road transport authority,” nor do they indicate anything about the status of a driver’s licence. They’re simply a way to let other road users know that the person in front of them might not appreciate you driving right up the back of them. Which, to be fair, no one wants, anyway.
In press materials, mycar cites a 1000-person survey, conducted for them by Pureprofile in August of this year, which found that roughly 75% of Australians had been affected by a road incident. 21% of those people reported taking between two and at least six months to feel comfortable on the road again following the event.
The same study found that 66% of Australians felt safer when driving with P or L plates on their car, reporting that the plates gave them a sense of confidence that other drivers would recognise their need for some space.
Dr Jason Thompson, Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne, quoted in the press materials said that “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.”
If you want to order an R plate, mycar has both magnetic and free, print-at-home plates you can attach to your car.
They also have links on their site to organisations that specialise in helping people recover from trauma they have experienced on the roads.