You're heading down the freeway, cruising at a nice 100kph when something about the car in the next lane attracts your attention. Despite the fact that you know to keep your eyes on the road you find yourself glancing over at the occupant of the next vehicle. Trying to maintain focus on the road ahead, you still peek over at the not unattractive young female driver, trying to determine what drew your eye and then it hits you. It wasn't her that you noticed at all....
The 'P' plate effect. It has been the talk of scientific community for years.

 The unconscious attraction of attention towards a small square of red plastic that many drivers experience everyday.

 For the first time ever, it is explained...


In Victoria, Australia the process of obtaining your drivers licence is quite simple.
  • At age 16 you can apply for a learner's licence.
  • from 16 to 18 you can drive with a fully licenced front-passenger
  • At 18 you can apply for a Probationary licence
  • For three years from that point you can driver unassisted but cannot have any alcohol in your blood
  • After those three years you lose the 0% alcohol limit ( and its replaced with .05% )

For the three years from 18 - 21, you must display a red, square piece of plastic with a yellow |P| on it. This is known as a P plate. This plate must be visible in both the front and back windows of your car. This earns the driver the title of P-plater.


So now we know what the 'P'-plate is, but how does it manage to distract so many motorists that it is meant to be subtly alerting to the possibility of teenagers

This has been attributed to two truths. 

  • Firstly, the 'P' plate itself is normally very bright red plastic with an almost luminescent white |P| in the center. The coloring itself would attract many an eye, but coupled with the fact that the driver is more than likely to be exceeding the speed limit by 10-20% and it becomes a streak of red that would attract a half-blind mule wearing sunglasses. 

  • The second factor is the implied relationship between existence of the plate and the expected age of the driver. Ever though people who obtained their licenses later in life still need to go through the probationary period like everyone else, the vast majority of 'P' platers are youths between the ages of 18 & 21-22. Of those, approximately 50% are female.


Could these either of these factors alone help the average driver in their life? 

Probably not..

In today's society however, where so much emphasis is put on finding a suitable mate, it is almost impossible to ignore any avenue that could lead to meeting up with "The One". It could be that the standard social scene with it's poor odds is not sufficient in keeping the human race paired up. In this case then these combined factors, this 'P' plate effect with it's bright red sign yelling "Look at me! I'm young (but not too young)! I'm fast! And you never know…. I just might be female!" could be the answer.

The laws above are for car licences. In same system applies for motorcycle licencing, except:

  • At age 17 (and 9 months) you can apply for your learners permit
  • From 17 (and 9 months) to 18 you can ride a 250cc motorcycle on the roads.
  • At 18 you can apply for your probationary licence
  • For three years from that point you cannot have any alcohol in your blood, and must display a 'P' plate
  • During that three years, the first year the rider must not ride a motorcycle of greater than 250cc's

Usually a car owners eye will be drawn to a 'P' plate motorcyclist because:

  • The 'bike went cruising past them carelessing doing twice the speed limit
  • At red lights, the 'bike came to a stop infront of them (the other motorist), after lane splitting through the traffic, and when the lights go green, the 'bike attempts to do a wheelie, fails, nearly stalls, realises how close the car behind him/her is, hunches over and takes off, warp 9.

This second effect is usually exacerbated by the fact the next set of lights will stop the 'bike, and he/she will attempt to do it again... leading to more humiliation for the 'P' plater. The good news is they eventually get better, at wheelies, and this doesn't happen by the time they get "off their P's" (as much)

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