The key to good observation skills is to be constantly scanning.
Scanning is keeping your eyes moving, checking in one area for a couple of seconds and then moving your eyes to another area. Whenever you’re driving, you depend on your eyes to provide you with a clear, complete and accurate picture of your surroundings. You should always be constantly searching for potential hazards. A hazard is anything that may interfere with your driving to cause you to change speed or direction. Hazards also include potentially dangerous situations that may lead to a crash or injury.
Scanning is a key hazard perception skill. All drivers should always be scanning around all the time to avoid hazards and crashes. Effective scanning means constantly moving your eyes and/or your head whilst driving so that you can detect hazards sooner rather than later. This may include moving your body forward or to the side, in order to gain a better view. Effective scanning also allows you to identify, react and take action, if a hazard was to present itself. You need to be aware of what’s happening right in front of you as well as what’s ahead.
For instance you look at what the vehicle in front of you is doing – whilst at the same time also looking as far ahead as possible. Frequently checking your mirrors and surroundings, provides you better information. Having this information, allows you to identify potential hazards and react sooner rather than later.
Always check your mirrors frequently, as things change behind and beside you when you drive. Remember, your vehicle has “blind spots” not covered by your mirrors so be sure to physically turn your head, chin to shoulder, and check your blind spots and look out the side windows.
When scanning look:
- In the distance.
- At the road surface.
- To your left and right.
- Regularly at your mirrors and instruments.
Depending on the vehicle, blind spots may vary. Vehicles such as vans or trucks often have more blind spots than passenger vehicles. Checking the blind spots with a head check is vital when you want to move, merge, turn, change lanes or when reversing.
IMPORTANT: To maintain effective scanning, you must keep your eyes and/or your head moving and not concentrating on just one spot as the driving environment changes constantly. Drive to the conditions. If your vision is limited, slow down to a speed that’s appropriate to the conditions or driving environment.
Did you know that in NSW, you can sit your driving test barefoot? That’s correct! You do not need to wear footwear when you go for your P’s. We do suggest however, that you at least wear footwear into the testing centre. Once you complete the initial paperwork and return to your vehicle for the driving test, take your shoes off and place them in the boot or on the floor behind the front passengers seat. Remember, for your driving test, you must secure any loose objects in the vehicle that may interfere with vehicle control or cause injury during hard braking.
Currently, there is no legislation that requires a driver to wear footwear whilst driving a motor vehicle in New South Wales. However, you should consider the consequences if you were involved in a serious accident. Wearing appropriate footwear could protect your feet from broken glass or other sharp objects. Depending on where you’re going, may depend on what footwear you choose to wear. However, this footwear may not be appropriate for the drive!
Wearing thongs, stilettos, high heel shoes or any other footwear that may make it difficult to use the foot pedals, is a bad idea. Perhaps wearing no shoes is more appropriate in this instance. As a safety measure, Learn Drive Survive recommend wearing appropriate and comfortable footwear when operating any motor vehicle.
Should I avoid doing my driving test during school hours? This is one of the common questions we get asked by many students ready to attempt their driving test. And unfortunately, there are many driving schools or driving instructors out there who encourage learner drivers to complete their P’s test outside of school hours. What a complete joke! The simple fact is, if you’re ready to get your P’s and drive solo, it shouldn’t matter what time of the day or night it is. We even hear about many learners travelling to different RMS testing centres away from their local area, because the testing officers are “more lenient.”
If you’re under 25 years old you’ve completed a minimum of 120 hours, apart from the usual nerves when like most assessments, you should be feeling confident and driving competently in order to pass your driving test. If you have prepared well and practiced, it shouldn’t matter when or where you sit your test. Like any posted speed limit whether it be a 50km/h or 60 km/h zone, adjust your speed. You will generally see a bright red flashing circle around the ’40’ and sometimes together with the flashing amber lights warning you. So please, when the time comes for you to sit your driving test, don’t be afraid or feel like you can’t pass your driving test during school hours because when you get your P’s school zones will still apply!
These “RMS Driving Test Tips”, will certainly help you in preparing for your driving test. Many learner drivers attempt their driving test however, are unfamiliar with certain criteria that must be met in order to successfully pass. Many parents and supervising drivers, do a good job in getting their learner driver up to an acceptable driving skill level. Unfortunately, many parents and supervisors are not aware of certain curriculum that is expected during the driving test.
The driving test is an important step in gaining your Provisional Licence commonly known as P’s. You will be assessed based on your driving performance in a range of situations and your ability to demonstrate low risk behaviours. It is a good idea to read the ‘Guide to the Driving Test’ booklet, as it is a general guide about what is in the driving test. The guide also provides examples of what you must do to drive safely and pass the test. If you would like a hard copy of this guide, attend your nearest Service Centre.
Whilst being assessed during your driving test, some actions and behaviours are classed as fail items. Here is a list of all the fail items along with some examples of how they may happen on a driving test. Below is a list of reasons of why you may fail your driving test. For the purposes of this blog, we have included instances such as exceeding the speed limit, Not stopping at a red traffic light or failing to give way.
Instead, we have included a list of common ‘fail items’ that you should be aware of prior to your driving test.
1. DISOBEYING TRAFFIC SIGNS, SIGNALS OR ROAD MARKINGS
- Not stopping at a yellow traffic light when it is safe to do so. You must stop at a yellow light unless sudden braking might cause a crash.
- Not stopping correctly at a stop line. Your final stopped position must be within one metre of the stop line and with no part of your car over the line.
3. COLLIDING WITH A VEHICLE, PEDESTRIAN OR OBJECT
- This includes mounting or straddling (one wheel either side of) a traffic dome and mounting the kerb or roundabout.
5. EXCEEDING THE SPEED LIMIT
You will fail if you exceed the speed limit at any time including:
- The 40 kilometre per hour limit at school zones during the hours of operation.
- The 40 kilometre per hour limit when passing a bus with flashing lights.
- The learner driver speed limit.
- Speed limits at road works.
6. ACTION REQUIRING TESTING OFFICER INTERVENTION
- If the testing officer has to give you verbal or physical assistance, including using the dual controls in an instructor’s vehicle, you will fail.
7. CAUSING A DANGEROUS SITUATION
- This fail item covers any unsafe act or behaviour that puts you or others at risk. This includes overtaking in an unsafe manner, or giving way unnecessarily.
8. FAILING TO MAINTAIN PROPER CONTROL OF THE VEHICLE
- Allowing the vehicle to roll back more than 500mm when moving off.
- Clutch coasting (allowing the vehicle to roll along with your foot on the clutch) or coasting in neutral.
- Not maintaining effective control of the steering wheel includes one hand steering and letting go of the steering wheel.
12. FREQUENTLY NOT SIGNALLING INTENTION
You will fail if you repeatedly do not signal when legally required to do so.
- Indicate for at least five seconds before leaving the kerb.
- Indicate for at least five seconds before leaving a parking space
- When changing lanes, diverging or pulling over to the kerb
- When exiting a roundabout.
15. UNREASONABLY OBSTRUCTING OTHER VEHICLES OR PEDESTRIANS
You will fail if you unreasonably obstruct other vehicles or pedestrians during the test.
- Drive significantly below the speed limit when prevailing conditions do not require it.
17. NOT PARKING TO THE REQUIRED STANDARD
During the manoeuvres you will fail if;
- The final position of your car is more than one metre from the kerb or obstructing traffic.
- Your wheels are on or over marked parking lines.
- You reverse more than seven metres from the vehicle in front during the reverse park section of the test.
18. FAILING TO MAINTAIN A SAFE FOLLOWING DISTANCE
- You will fail if you follow too closely to the vehicle in front (Allow at least 3 seconds in ideal conditions and 4 seconds in adverse conditions).
19. FREQUENTLY NOT PERFORMING OBSERVATION CHECKS
You will incur this fail item if you repeatedly miss observation checks when required. Failing to perform observation commonly known as ‘head or shoulder checks’ is probably one of the most common reasons why learners fail their driving test. To conduct a head check, you must turn your head chin to shoulder. You must ensure to perform a head check any time that you;
- Leave or return to the kerb.
- Merge, diverge or change lanes.
- Are about to reverse, such as in a reverse parallel park and 3 point turn.
- Turn at intersections, leave or join the road.
- Cross lanes within a roundabout on exiting.
Remember: When moving off after being stopped at traffic lights and railway level crossings, you must turn your head and check it is safe to proceed.
When attempting your driving test, make sure you take your time. Don’t hurry anything, particularly at roundabouts and intersections. You need to take your time to make for good decision making. When performing maneuouvres, don’t hurry for any vehicles waiting for you to complete the maneuouvre, as this will most probably cause you to make mistakes. The person you try and hurry for will not pay for your next test fee!
How well do you know the NSW Road Rules? Understanding some basic rules can certainly help a learner driver during the learning process of driving. The Road Users’ Handbook outlines the main rules which apply to road users and is strongly recommended to be read and understood should you hold a driver’s licence in NSW.
The Road Users’ Handbook explains the road rules and road signs applicable to everyone driving on NSW roads. If you are looking to attempt the Driver Knowledge Test also known as the DKT, reading through this booklet or reading it online, will certainly assist you when answering the questions.
There are certain road rules in NSW that are misunderstood and that drivers are not aware of. The Transport for NSW released a publication to assist drivers titled, “Top 10 misunderstood road rules in NSW”. This simple guide contains information on roundabouts, merging, intersections and other driving related situations. Particularly as a learner driver, reading, learning and understanding these rules, will assist in making better decisions.
So, you got your P’s and now it’s time to go on holidays with your family and/or friends. To ensure you have a fantastic holiday be sure to follow some of the following tips to make your time away enjoyable, safe and affordable. Be sure to do your online research for all types of car hire companies and read the fine print.
There is limited number of Australian rental car companies that are able to hire to drivers under the age of 25 as well as drivers holding an Australian Provisional Drivers Licence. Most of the time you can rent a car if you are on your ‘P’ Plates but you must be on a “full cover” package if you are over 21 years of age.
Another important aspect of choosing a hire car that is right for you is to choose a car that you may be comfortable with i.e. choose a vehicle like the size and style of the car you have learnt to drive in. You are a much safer driver if you are feeling comfortable with your surrounds. Remember, only drive automatic transmission vehicles, or clutch less manual vehicles, if you took your driving test in this type of vehicle. Your licence card will show the A034 condition on the front.
Vehicle restriction laws
P1 and P2 drivers are banned from driving high-performance vehicles that have:
- Power to tare mass ratios of greater than 130kW per tonne or,
- Modified engines that need to be approved by an engineer or,
- Other high performance classifications
You can find approved vehicles in the P1/P2 vehicle search.
Passenger limits for P1 and P2 drivers
P1 drivers under 25 are not permitted to drive with more than one passenger under 21 between the hours of 11pm and 5am. P1 or P2 drivers who are issued with a new licence after a period of being disqualified from driving, will for 12 months only be allowed to carry one passenger.
Very important things to check
Remember to ask the car hire company any relevant questions such as, when the car last was last serviced and the phone number of who to contact if you have any problems.
Always write down the actual odometer reading to keep a personal record of how many kilometres the hire car has done. Lastly, filling the vehicle with a full tank of fuel before returning is usually cheaper than the rate which the set out by the car hire company to do so.
Be sure to read the fine print very well. You may find that shopping around can save you quite a lot. Whilst rental vehicle excess benefit does not take the place of Rental Vehicle Insurance. 1cover.com.au will reimburse you up to $5,000 on our comprehensive plans for any excess or deductible which you become legally liable to pay under your Rental Vehicle hiring agreement if the Rental Vehicle is involved in an accident while you are driving, or is damaged or stolen while in your custody.