Learners and supervising drivers

Everything improves with experience, and learning to drive is no different. Parents and supervising drivers play an important role in providing vital on-road experience for learner drivers.

The graduated licencing system means that learner drivers need to gain at least 120 hours of driving experience (with at least 10 hours of night time driving) before they can apply for their Ps. While this may sound like a lot, many learners have their permit for 2 years, so 120 hours is just a little over an hour a week.

Tips for achieving 120 hours of driving experience:

  • Think about the trips you already make together each week, and schedule these as practice sessions. Simply expect to add another few minutes to each journey.
  • If you miss a practice session just schedule an additional drive at another time in the week.
  • Practice driving in a range of conditions. It is important that learner drivers are exposed to as many different driving conditions and situations as possible. Consider the following:
    • Weather conditions – dry, wet, stormy, foggy
    • Light conditions – daytime, night-time, dawn, dusk
    • Traffic conditions – light, moderate, heavy
    • Road types – residential, divided/undivided, freeways, highways, roads with trams, CBD Melbourne/regional centres, rural roads, gravel roads.  
  • Don’t try to tackle all aspects of driving at once. A staged approach to driving practice should be considered.

Tips for supervising drivers:

Supervising a learner driver can be overwhelming and it may take some time for you to feel comfortable as a supervisor. Remember: 

  • Don’t try to do too much too quickly with your learner driver.
  • Start each driving session with a review of what happened on the last drive.
  • Plan with your learner what skills and conditions to be “tackled” each drive. Don’t introduce too many things too quickly.
  • Don't force your learner to drive at speeds faster than they feel comfortable with. Drive in less complex conditions until their confidence and competence improves.
  • Get your learner to describe what they are doing, planning to do, what they can see ahead and so on as they drive. This is called commentary driving and it helps the learner work through what they are thinking and doing.
  • Dealing with hazards on the road can be stressful – don’t continue if either you or the learner is upset. Stop and wait until everyone is calm.
  • Use “I” messages, e.g. “In a situation like this I would...”
  • Don't blame the learner for making mistakes, but encourage them to learn from their mistakes. Ask your learner how they might have handled the particular driving situation differently.  
  • View VicRoads’ Lessons from the Road resource. This resource helps parents support their learner driver.

Links and resources:

  • RACV - Drive School. The RACV Drive school promotes safe and confident drivers. Our accredited instructors provide individually tailored lessons to meet your driving goals. 
  • RACV - Keys2Drive. RACV is involved in keys2drive, an Australia-wide,federally funded education program providing a free one-hour driving lesson to all learner drivers and their supervisor.
  •  VicRoads - Get your Ls. If you are planning to drive for the first time you will need to get a Learner permit. 
  •  VicRoads – The Learner Kit. This resource helps learner drivers progress toward their Ps. The resource is free of charge when you get your Ls. 
  • VicRoads - Lessons from the Road. This resource aims to help parents support their learner driver. It contains tips and advice about how to help your learner gain at least 120 hours of driving practice. 
  • VicRoads - L2P. The L2P learner driver mentor program assists learners under 21 years of age, who do not have access to a supervising driver or vehicle, to gain the driving experience required to apply for a probationary licence. 
  • TAC - DriveSmart is an interactive program that takes you through a range of driving scenarios and quizzes, where you need to make safe driving judgements.
  • Tips for learner and supervising drivers flyer

GLS and getting your licence

Young drivers are over-represented in car crashes due to various causes including inexperience, risky behaviour and distractions.

The graduated Licensing System which was introduced in 2007 is aimed to help improve the road safety of younger drivers.

To ensure that you're up to date with the changes, book a driving lesson with RACV Drive School by calling 1300 788 229 or register your interest online.

For more information about the Graduated Licensing System, visit the VicRoads website to find out more about L-Plates and P-Plates.

Young driver safety

Each year in Victoria, approximately 60 road users aged between 18 and 25 are killed and 1250 are seriously injured.

Young drivers are most at risk as soon as they obtain a Probationary licence, and in the first year of driving, their risk of crashing is three times higher than an experienced driver.

Why do young drivers crash?

Young drivers crash for many different reasons, which include:

  • Inexperience
  • Poor decision-making
  • Willingness to take risks whilst driving
  • The influence of peer passengers
  • Alcohol and drug use

The facts

  • A young driver’s risk of being involved in a fatal crash is over five times higher when carrying two or more passengers than when travelling alone.
  • Young passengers are most likely to be killed in a car when travelling with other young drivers.

Some things for young drivers to remember:

  • Get at least 120 hours of accompanied on-road experience before applying for your licence.
  • Choose a safe car.
  • Adhere to passenger restrictions.
  • Don’t drive whilst tired.
  • Aim to increase space and following distances. Always keep a minimum two second gap from the vehicle in front.
  • Do not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Always ensure you and all of your passengers are wearing a seat belt.

Passenger restrictions

Victorian crash statistics show that 26% of fatal crashes involving probationary drivers occur when the young driver is carrying multiple passengers. The risk of crash involvement increases with the number of passengers, and new P plate drivers have four times the risk of being in a fatal crash if they are carrying more than one passenger.

Links:

  • free2go - RACV youth motoring program for 18-20 year olds
  • VicRoads - issues and initiatives for young drivers
  • Lessons from the Road - This resource contains tips and advice on how to help your learner gain at least 120 hours of driving practice.

P Drivers Project

Recruitment of participants for the P Drivers Project is now complete.

The P Drivers Project is one of the largest and most complex scientific research studies undertaken in the area of driver education designed to improve the safety of new P plate drivers. The project aims to help protect young people from trauma on our roads.

Newly licensed drivers aged 18 and 22 were recruited from Melbourne, Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong and surrounding areas. The project, known as MyLiveTribe to participants, invited new P-platers to complete surveys to voice their opinions, and share some of the experiences and challenges they faced a new driver. Many also attended locally run group discussions and sessions with a driving coach to help them become safer drivers.

Participants enjoyed some great rewards including movie tickets, bowling passes, gift cards and also entered prize draws for holidays and the chance to win a Toyota Yaris.

Results are expected to be available at the end of 2016.

Join the L2P program

The VicRoads L2P mentor program helps learners under 21 who don't have access to a supervising driver or car, to gain the driving experience needed to apply for a probationary licence.