Are you Learning to Drive?
You can start learning to drive however, the first step is to pass the Driver Knowledge Test also known as the DKT and if you’re at least 16 years old, you’re ready to start. Once you pass your DKT, you will be issued with a learner licence and a learner driver log book. Your logbook will allow you and your supervising driver(s) to accurately record your drives to ensure that your logbook accumulates at least 120 hours of supervised driving, including a minimum of 20 hours of night driving.
Remember, night driving includes hours between sunset and sunrise and are the minimum hours needed to be completed before you can attempt the driving test. Now that you got your Ls, you need to become a safe and responsible driver. In order to accomplish this, you will need to practice as much as possible and in different environments. For many people, learning to drive for the first time, can be an awkward and scary feeling, especially for younger drivers.
Learning to drive is an important stage of your life however, there are a lot of things to learn and remember. It’s not just about jumping into the drivers seat, starting the vehicle and off you go. Remember the days of sitting back relaxing and watching the world go by as you got chauffeured around?
Well now that you a occupying the driver’s seat operating a vehicle, those days are gone! To help you along with your learning to drive journey, we have outlined some very important steps and procedures that not only learner drivers should do but anybody operating a vehicle.
Pre-Drive Safety Checks
Before you even start thinking about getting behind the wheel of a vehicle, there are a few important things that you need to familiarise yourself with. This includes knowing the Road Rules
, ensuring that your vehicle is roadworthy
and in good working order, you have L Plates clearly displayed on the front and rear, your logbook is in the vehicle and that you are carrying your learner licence with you when driving.
But before driving your vehicle, you should complete a good pre-drive vehicle safety check.
- It’s generally a good rule of thumb to walk around the outside of your vehicle first looking for any obvious damage to anywhere on the vehicle you are about to drive. During this time, you should check that your L plates are clearly displayed and that your lights are all working correctly.
- Whilst conducting these checks, you can also ensure that all of the tyres are correctly inflated and that there is at least 1.5mm of tread. What you need to look for is the tread wear indicator. If this is exposed, the tyre is not legal therefore your vehicle is not roadworthy which is an offence.
- Check that there are no wheel nuts missing and there are no slices or chunks anywhere on the tyres.
- Make sure that there are no cracks or chips in the windscreen and that the windscreen and windows are clean to ensure visibility is not restricted in any way.
- Check that the horn works and that it is clearly audible.
- Every vehicle you drive may have the controls and instruments in different positions. After setting up and adjusting your seating, you have to be within reach of the all of the vehicles controls immediately, should you have the need to access them.
- Whenever you get into a different vehicle, familiarise yourself with the layout and the controls on the dashboard.
- And finally,remember that a good idea to check your fuel.
Finding your Supervising Driver
A supervising driver must hold a current full Australian driver licence – not a learner or provisional licence. It is a good idea to combine professional driving lessons with a qualified driving instructor and reputable driving school. By learning to drive with a driving school or a driver trainer, you to learn the driving skills you need to be a safe and competent driver.
The supervising driver must have a blood alcohol content (BAC) limit under 0.05 while supervising a learner.
So, who can be your supervising driver?
- Depending on your class of licence, your supervising driver must hold the correct class of licence. For example, if the person taking you has only ever driven automatic vehicles and has a licence class to suit, you can only learn in an auto and not in a manual.
- Holder of a current full Australian driver licence which can include a family member or friend. (Not a learner or provisional licence holder or anyone with a suspended or disqualified licence status).
- Professional driver training from a reputable driving school with qualified driving instructors.
This is a check you need to go through before you start driving. The first place to start is your seat. Why? Because once your seated in the correct place, everything else around you has to be adjusted to suit your seated position. After your legs are slightly bent, you need to adjust your arm length. A good tip is to put your arms out over the steering wheel so that your wrists can rest on top.
When adjusting the steering wheel, you should be able to see the dashboard and gauges through the top half of the steering wheel. Once the steering wheel has been positioned, you need to adjust the headrest. Don’t forget, your headrest does serve a purpose as it’s there to support your head and neck in case you’re involved in a crash.
Place your seat belt on so that the sash section of the seat belt cuts across your shoulder and the lap section of your seat belt cuts across your hips. A lap sash seat belt is just a another way of describing a seat belt that combines a strap over the thighs with a diagonal strap across the chest and over one shoulder.
It is suggested that you grab the seat belt and give it a couple of quick short tugs to ensure that it is firmly fitted.
The next thing to do is check your three (3) mirrors. These include your centre rear view mirror and one (1) mirror either side of the vehicle. This is extremely important as it provides visibility and enhances safety on the roads. Your rear view mirror should be adjusted so that when you into it, you can clearly see the back window.
Your side mirrors should be adjusted so that when you look into them from sitting in your normal driving position, the horizon (the point at which the road disappears into the distance) is in the centre of the mirror. You need to make sure that there is a small section of the side of your vehicle in the left side of the mirror. This will allow you to see more of the road behind you.
Adjust the left mirror using the same technique as the right whilst seated in the same driving position.
Your First Lesson
After navigating around the dashboard and familiarising yourself with the controls and gauges, its time to be introduced to the road for the first time. It is a great idea to commence driving skills in low-traffic areas, such as industrial estates and quiet suburban streets however, with local knowledge, you may be aware of ideal locations. Your supervising driver or qualified driving instructor, should provide you with planned driving lessons to equip you with the necessary skills to pass the driving test and going on to become a safe and responsible driver.