Getting your driver's licence
drive; driver; driving; driver's; test; exam; examination; licence; license; learners; learner's; car; vehicle; road; crash; accident; speed; drink; learner; probationary
For the past 16 years (well, not quite, but nearly) you have been wanting to drive. Maybe your friends or brothers and sisters already have their licence, and you have felt like this birthday was never going to come. Well the time has come - you can go for the test.
Getting your drivers licence is a big moment for most young people. It often represents a move into the adult world, and gives the opportunity for more freedom. But going for the test can be nerve racking, and people always seem to want to know, 'How many times did you do the test?'
- The information in this topic refers to South Australia, but there are likely to be similar laws and tests in other places.
- There is a Graduated Licencing Scheme.
testing process in South Australia
The full process for getting driving licences is available on the Transport SA website
a Learner's Permit
The first thing you need is the Driver's Handbook. It has a description of the road rules that you need to learn before you sit for your written (theory) test. You can get the Driver's Handbook from:
The theory test is not easy, so you will need to study hard.
Go to your nearestCustomer Service Centre (or country Police Station) and sit for the theory test.
- You will be asked questions about specific situations on the road and what to do and multiple-choice questions.
- You have to pay each time you sit the test, so learn hard so that you only have to pay once.
- Theory test
If you have done your homework with the Driver's Handbook, about 45 minutes later you'll walk out of the building with a Learner's Permit and be able to buy your set of "L" plates to stick in your car.
to drive in the car
Now you need someone to take you out for lessons.
- Hopefully you will already have found someone who is patient, calm, a good communicator and who can still remember how scary and exciting it is to get in the car for the first time to try and drive.
- You may be able to learn to drive at your High school if there is a driver education course running there.
- Getting a driving school instructor for at least one or two lessons, when you start to learn to drive, and just before taking your test, can really help you to learn how to drive safely.
You will not be issued with a provisional licence until you have held a learner's permit for a minimum of 12 months and have completed at least 75 hours of driving which includes at least 15 hours of night driving with a Qualified Supervising Driver.
See 'Getting my P-plates'
A Qualified Supervising Driver can be a family member or friend with a full driver's licence, and that person or those people need to be in the car when you are learning on your Ls.
After this you have two choices:
- You can do the Practical Driving Test.
- Or you can do the Competency-Based Training Course. Here you pay for an Accredited Driving Instructor to teach you to drive and 'tick off' the skills as you learn them. You can get credit for this towards your logbook of supervised driving hours.
Once you pass either of these you get your P1 licence, - check this out at:
After 12 months (and when you are 18 years or older) you can go for your P2 - check this out at:
Phew, what a lot to remember eh?
the real world
Although you have passed your tests you will not have the same experience of traffic situations as someone who has been driving for much longer.
- Remember that although young people often have very good reflexes and skills, you need experience to be able to react correctly in difficult or sudden situations, so don't take things too quickly.
- You will probably notice how each time you get in the car and drive you have a little more confidence. Keep your head and relax.
- You can stay on your P1 for ages if you keep making mistakes, so be smart.
- Going over the speed limit can very quickly lead to you losing that precious licence that you worked so hard to get.
your parents' car
Now you may be fortunate enough (or not) to be sharing your parent's car - until you get your own of course! This can be great in the meantime, but will require a lot of understanding, compromise and sharing on your side as well as theirs.
- It would be useful just before you get your licence to plan with your parents how you are going to work this process.
- There may be particular days (or nights) that you can have the car, people you can transport, places you can go, or things you can do to contribute (cleaning, sharing costs etc).
- Using your parents car is great chance to practise what it could be like when you have your own car.
- If you plan before the driving starts it may prevent that argument right before you want/need the car to go to that party.
- Remember, if your parents own the car, they usually have to pay much more for insurance to cover a learner driver and may also have to pay for your petrol.
- Parents don't have to let you drive their car. Best to keep them sweet and show your appreciation.
- Learn how to look after a car: check oil, tyres, water, fuel, and wash it. This will show that you can be responsible and you may get to have the car more often.
your own car
If you have decided to get your own car then you need to start thinking about what is most suitable for your kind of travel and use. Safety is something you should be thinking about all the time. Road accidents and deaths (or injuries that can cause permanent damage) are really high for young people. It would be better to save longer to purchase a safer vehicle than settle for something less – your life is worth the wait.
Buying a car is only the first expense. You will also have to pay registration, licence fees, insurance, petrol and so on. Of course, it is possible that your car will have mechanical problems, so you must also consider budgeting money away for this too.
"Don't rush into getting a car of your own until you have some money behind you. Do your sums really well. If all your cash goes into the car what do you do about a social life? Or buying the gear that you want? What if you don't have money for petrol sometimes? A car is no good if it's a driveway ornament!"
tips to keep in mind
- Don't drive with alcohol or any other drug in your body as it will affect your reaction time, vision, concentration, ability, coordination and so on. It is also illegal in South Australia if you are an 'L' or 'P' plate driver.
- Make sure you have good tyres with plenty of grip.
- Try not to drive if you are tired, upset or distracted - there is already so much to concentrate on.
- Don't drive a whole group of friends around if their noise is too distracting - it only takes one second of loss of concentration to have an accident.
- Avoid driving in the wet weather as roads are far more slippery.
- Drive with headlights on when there is not good light.
Although you may have your licence, you may not have driven in all kinds of situations. For example, country driving is a very different experience where you have to deal with high speeds, overtaking lanes, trucks and other unfamiliar traffic, new signs that you haven't seen since you read the book and so on. Go with someone in the car on a country drive to watch and learn. It is okay to always be learning when it comes to driving.
- When music is too loud it can also make it hard to hear things like sirens, car horns or even people. This could cause an accident if you don't hear things properly.
- Don't drive any friends who put pressure on you to drink drive or to speed.
- Make sure your car is safe mechanically (particularly always make sure your brakes are not worn).
- Learn about your car so that you know how to care for it yourself (adding oil or water).
- Chill, don't risk your licence and life by showing off.
Mobile phone ban
In South Australia all learner’s permit (L) and provisional licence (P1) holders will be banned from using any type of mobile phone function while driving. This includes:
- using hands-free mode including Bluetooth technology
- loud speaker operation
- text messaging.
Research has shown that using a mobile phone while driving increases crash risk by at least four times.
L and P1 drivers can still use a mobile phone in a stationary car, they must pull over and park the vehicle safely before doing so.
The penalty for using a mobile phone while driving is a fine of $218 and three demerit points.
For more information Transport South Australia: Road safety: mobile phone use'
Now your friends are pretty important to you, yeah? When they are travelling in your car with you as the driver you have their life in your hands. Unfortunately you can't control all of the cars and people on the road, so it pays to be as safe as you can.
Don't let your friends tell you how to drive or let them distract you so that you can't concentrate. Remember that something that may seem like a great idea at the time or heaps of fun, may actually be life threatening or cause an injury. Always think about the consequences.
- Young people are at greater risk of crashes than more experienced drivers. Have a look at what is being done to reduce this crash risk. 'Reducing Young Driver Crash Risk', Injury Prevention, 2002 Sept; Vol 8 (Supplement 2)
- The Australian Government has a site dedicated to environmental friendly motoring. Here you can find tips on green motoring, a car buying guide and much more:
Green vehicle guide
TransportSA Driver's Handbook http://www.transport.sa.gov.au/publications/...
Government of South Australia 'MyLicence' New rules
The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Youth Healthline on 1300 13 17 19 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).