Should Learner Drivers get or need driving lessons?
Driving lessons are not compulsory, though as mentioned in my other blog (which driving school, under the section, does the learner need lessons), yes I believe this is critical, students need to learn good driving habits early in their driving lessons and minimise stress and anxiety. There are numerous blogs and statements about parents giving learners a bum steer or incorrect habits passed on to learners.
How many driving lessons will the learner need?
You can have 1 or 99 lessons; again as mentioned in my blog this is all about the student. On average I suggest 4 to 6 lessons to start, with maybe another 1 to 3 lessons about half way through their required hours, then approximately 4 to 6 near the end of the logbook and preparing for their driving assessment. A great instructor will never encourage more lessons if the student does not require them, though we’re always happy to assist if they still want further lessons.
Can I use my car or should I use the driving school car?
This answer to this question is a personal choice.
Some driving instructors feel uncomfortable and out of control when using a vehicle without dual controls unless they feel the student is capable of driving at an above average level. Therefore they will encourage you to use their vehicle. Unlike RoadSafe Training, they may also offer no discount when using your vehicle to promote the use of their vehicle.
A good driving instructor will feel capable and in control no matter your vehicle or their own. A good experienced Instructor would have trained brand new learners when there are no dual-control vehicles available (third world countries for example), so, therefore they will have experience with the use of vehicles not set up as learner driver vehicles and teaching learners how to drive to be safe.
For the Test, again it is a personal choice which vehicle the learner would prefer. Again some driving schools will try to have you use their vehicle so that they can charge you for the privilege.
No, the driving examiner will not fail you cause you use your vehicle. There is a space on the form “Driver License Application/Renewal”, were your driving instructor can place his details so as the examiner knows you have had professional driving instruction. This is not necessary as the driving examiners are professional and will assess the learner on their driving abilities.
Can I wear sunglasses and do I have to wear shoes for the driving lesson?
Yes, the learner is allowed to wear sunglasses while driving and doing their driving test. In Queensland there is no regulation on wearing shoes while driving, so, therefore, learner drivers can be barefoot while driving even able to take their driving test while barefoot.
Should I go for an Automatic or Manual License?
Beware of the driving school or driving instructor who suggests starting with auto lessons then progress later to manual lessons, or suggest taking your test in automatic then later do your test in the manual. They are trying to make more money from you.
The reason driving schools will advise automatic first is to get more lessons.
Honestly, even students who do not have a manual vehicle to practise with are still better off and will still achieve good driving etiquette from lessons in a manual and practice in their auto. Many students I have trained who have had no experience in a car, let alone a manual and only have access to an automatic have done the minimum of lessons and passed first go on their manual driving test. This saves quite a bit in costs.
So Auto or manual this is a curly question, auto or manual?
The first thing I do when I get this question is ask the learner what they wish to learn, it’s a question the parents need to let the learner answer. This question is about them and their future, remember we are only about ten years away from self-drive cars. The most common response from learners is mum and dad want me to learn to drive such and such, or I don’t know, or I’m not sure. I then ask to consider what do feel you want from your licence, are you going to be the sort of person who only wants to go from A to B and the occasional road trip to C?
Are you interested in cars? Are you an enthusiast? What sort of car will you likely purchase? If they are into old school cars, then manual is the better choice, as the older automatics weren’t real great. If the learner is into drifting, motor khanas and doing up their pride and joy, then manual is probably the better choice again.
In today’s society, there are more automatics on the road. Car sales for automatic vehicles are up and keep rising. As such the youth of today are moving towards automatic vehicles.
Next, I ask the parents what would they like their learner to learn and why. Now I hear lots of weird reasons for the choice of manual, for example, what if there is an emergency and the only vehicle is manual, and they need to drive? My response is if there is an emergency I would prefer they call 000 for help and not drive anywhere under that stress and danger. In a worse case scenario and they need to drive, I believe they would be able to get the vehicle going. We can always go over basics and instruct on how to get a manual going if the parents are that forceful on the fact the learner must know how to drive a manual. I’m happy to teach if that’s what is important to the parent.
Another common response is what if their child was out with friends and the designated driver starts to drink, at least their child will be able to drive home. Now, this response, I’m sorry is very funny. I always ask the parents, soooo your child is out with friends, and they have a designated driver, but they still don’t drink because?? Your child would already be drinking, therefore, can’t drive. A taxi is the better choice. Another common response is manual cars are cheaper to purchase, this is not the case. You will notice the car sales ads pushing automatic free or free upgrade for automatic cars.
Another common response is they will need manual to drive trucks or to work in the mining industry, or for the police and military. Again this is not the case, RoadSafe trainers have trained the mining industry for many years, trained military and police forces around the world, all these industries are moving towards automatic vehicles. Only recently I was contracted to train the Australian Defence Force with the conversion to their new vehicles, which are all automatic. While training the Federal Police in Canberra, again all vehicles automatic. Another often comment that is not relevant these days is that automatics are bad for towing or heavy loads, this is outdated, and as mentioned just before, heavy vehicles are heading towards automatic transmissions and are quite capable of towing and heavy loads.
Where is the best test centre to do the test at or the best examiner to get?
I have heard some great stories about how this Test Centre fails everyone; that Test Centre has to fail at least half, or at this Test Centre they are easy and pass everyone.
The transport department have systems in place that if a centre has a low pass rate they do investigations to find out why. The same for the examiners, also if they are passing every student, again the department check. There is no easy or harder Test Centre; it is all about the learner drivers abilities and learning the correct way to drive.
I tell my students that I would be able to drop you in any location around the world whether left-hand drive or right and you will be able to drive. Now there will be some variations of road rules but in general road rules are pretty uniform. Therefore you will be capable of driving, no matter which Tests Centre you choose, you will pass. I constantly warn of driving schools who suggest that they only have their students do the test during the middle of the day or on Saturdays so as to avoid school zones and traffic; yes that may be good to minimise stress though students who have been taught correctly will be able to handle situations.
What happens if I’m involved in an accident in a learning school car?
Professional driving schools should be fully comprehensively covered with their insurance. If you are not at fault, you have nothing to pay. Driving schools, in general, all have the same policy if you are the cause of an accident due to failing to follow the instructor’s directions you will need to pay the insurance excess.
How long are driving lessons?
The most common length of driving lessons is one hour.
However, one and half hours is a good lesson length as it provides enough time to learn, practise and drive further away from your local location.
Two hours is a good lesson time if you wish to get some good driving under you, and to move outside your local area, though most students start to feel the fatigue when first driving at this length. It is good to do at some point or plan a good two-hour drive with your parents or supervisor.
Lastly is the two and a half or three-hour lesson unless you are purely trying to rack up hours in your log book, or you are planning on some serious road trips when you achieve your P’s; this is not the best of ideas. Firstly every two hours we need to pull over and take a fatigue break and walk around, in doing this to assist in fatigue management we would be resting for around 15 minutes so. Therefore, your two and a half or three-hour lesson is minimised anyway.
Should I do more than my logbook hours?
It’s about the quality of your hours, if you have done 100 hrs (QLD) and it has all been to school, and home and that’s it, then doing another 50 hours of the same will not be beneficial. Your driving hours needs to be quality, again I understand supervisors and parents can be busy, but if we want safe drivers they need to experience driving. It’s often referred to as wide, deep and long experience, get out there and drive in different situations, times and circumstances, take different routes to school, shops or training.
Plan your drive so as to take in motorways, traffic and mountainous roads.
If you have done all your logbook hours, hand your logbook in. In QLD it’s 100 hours, no need to make sure you have 100 by doing another 10 hours. If you’ve made a mistake, the transport department will still send it back for you to cross out or amend, check before you send it in, and allow 12 working days for it to be processed.
Am I allowed to drive straight away if I pass my test?
If you pass your test on a business day (Monday to Friday) then yes once you have paid for your licence. If you have done a Saturday test, unfortunately, you will need to wait til the next business day to pay for your licence, then you will be able to drive away on your own.
What are the rules if I’m driving in another State or country?
Always think of the old saying, “When in Rome do as the Romans do” this will always help keep you out of trouble with the law. Do some research, Google is amazing, though as mentioned earlier, in general, all road rules are similar, the best option, if you are unsure, is to contact the transport department in that state or country.
I went out last night but only had a couple of drinks, will it matter?
Remember as a learner until you reach your open licence you are required to be zero alcohol. There is zero tolerance for this, so if you had a couple of drinks last night it is always best not to drive the next day. It’s a great habit to start. Lots of open licence holders have lost their licence from being over 0.05 the following day.
Do Police fine learner drivers?
Yes, they do. My experience, in general, is that police are more understanding towards learners and will allow a certain leeway for any minor accidental indiscretions. It’s important that your supervisor understands the road rules as if they do fine and charge you the learner then you may lose points, and a learner only has 4 points.
Should parents come along for the driving lessons?
I believe this is a very good idea. I understand people are busy; sometimes the learners don’t want their supervisor/parent to come as they can add stress. I believe this is perfect for the learning experience; it adds value for the learner if the parent/supervisor understands how and why the driving instructor is coaching.
Where possible do a couple of lessons with just the driving instructor, then let the parent/supervisor then come along and learn.
Beware of the driving school who does not want the parent/supervisor to come along. They are likely to be dragging out lessons.
Should I do Defensive Driving/Advanced Driving as part of my lessons or as an extra course?
Some transport departments and road authorities may suggest learners and P Platers up to the age of 25 years to not do defensive/advanced driving courses. The reason being is that their studies show that young L or P Platers become overconfident with their abilities and that the skills taught are not practised or refreshed to be beneficial when and if needed.
Then you have some countries were defensive and advanced courses are part of the learner driving curriculum, where the cost to gain your licence is upward of $5000.
Interestingly in these countries, road crashes and most importantly road trauma is very little.
So why the difference. Unfortunately, a number of defensive and advanced driving courses or lessons are based purely on the skill set of driving and not focused on the attitude.
RoadSafe Training we talk about how the skill is nothing without the correct attitude, and honestly, if your attitude about driving is poor, then your driving skills will be poor.
If you invest in a Defensive/Advanced Driving Course, ensure they give refresher courses. There are so many Defensive/Advanced Driving Courses out there. The team at RoadSafe Training have written; implemented; contracted; worked for; trained the trainers, locally, nationally and internationally, we have seen the good the bad and the ugly of these courses. Without trying to sound egotistic, we often hear how great our courses are. They understand and appreciate that attitude is the key to road safety. Check to see what the training organisation is trying to implement and check the student to trainer ratio. (I have seen 40 students to 3 instructors, purely money driven).
If you are unsure of the course then leave it. It is better to wait till your L or P plater is more mature to appreciate the skills taught.
Beware the driving schools offering to teach Defensive/Advanced Driving Course while doing lessons; this is very impractical. Defensive/Advanced Driving needs large area’s to be able to teach and allow students to lose control. This teaches them to understand the feel of the vehicle when things go wrong.
I have asked an instructor in the past who states he teaches defensive driving during his lesson. How do you teach students the feel of the car when it breaks traction around a roundabout? His answer – Well, I don’t teach that. I then asked what about an emergency stop at 80 Km/hr? He gave me a blank stare and said I was being ridiculous. What was he teaching then?
You need the room to allow students to make errors so to teach them how to remain in control. You need a safe restricted area to allow the students to push the boundaries. This shows the physics of the vehicle and its capabilities and restrictions.