Awareness Tips and Practical Advice for Learner Drivers

Most people regard getting a license as an absolute life necessity – for improving independence, freedom and enjoying the time saving convenience of driving a vehicle.

Learning to drive comes with many extra responsibilities, rules and consequences and there are a lot of things to learn, remember and ‘never to forget’, when operating and driving a car on road.

This article is written to provide very practical advice for learner drivers and guidance too for new learners and novice drivers on the process of licensing, supervision and starting to drive on road. This article is designed to help you get the most out of your driving sessions and help you become a safe driver throughout all stages of your driving and in a variety of road conditions.

Before you get behind the Wheel of a Car as a Learner Driver

Place 2 x Learner (L) plates on your car

Have your learner logbook in the car (you will need to complete it every time you drive)

Ensure your learner licence is on your person every time you drive.

Your Supervisor

A Learner can drive with anyone as long as the supervisor holds an Open driver’s licence and has done for at least one year for the class of vehicle you will be driving.

Check the supervisor’s license is not cancelled or suspended.

It is also a good idea to consider who will be a good supervisor for you, preferably someone calm.

It is a huge advantage to combine professional driving lessons with your regular log book practise. A quality instructor will ensure you are developing the correct skills and behaviours and provide you with drills to practise in your supervised drives with your parents or friends.

Your Driving Practise

Learner drivers should spread their driving practice out over the entire learner licence period, being a minimum of 12 months as well as complete 100 hours supervised practise on road.

Weekly practice in a variety of roads and intersections in different suburbs is important to develop good observational and planning skills. Please ensure you do more than drive to and from school, Uni or work each day. Try and drive in different conditions—in the dry, in the wet, during peak hour and at night.

When deciding to drive ensure you are alert and focused. Remember, you are the licensed driver of the vehicle. As far as the law and other drivers are concerned, you will be held accountable for any breach of the road rules, collision or accident. Welcome to driving!

Getting your Car Ready

Before you start to drive any vehicle it is advisable to:

Check the four tyres on approach to your vehicle; ensure they are inflated properly and do not appear flat. Also check they have enough tread. Tyres are the last contact a driver has with the road surface and it is critical drivers check these regularly.

Adjust your seat so you have good posture and visibility.

How close should you be to the steering wheel?

TIP: When you are sitting in the driver’s seat, stretch your arms straight out in front of you. Your wrists should reach the top of the steering wheel whilst keeping your back and shoulders in the seat back. Adjust the seat to achieve this and then set your mirrors to suit your seating position.

Adjust the headrest so the back of your head is squarely in the centre of the headrest pad.

Check your feet can comfortably reach the pedals.

Adjust the steering wheel height and length. This will improve your comfort if you are shorter and ensure you have a good view of the instrument panel and can bring your feet closer to the pedals.

Check the important instruments and controls, such as the handbrake, demister, lights, windscreen wipers, indicators and horn including where they are located, how to operate them and check they all work correctly.

Make sure you have enough fuel.

Ask your supervisor to inspect the car and check that the indicators, brake lights are working .

Driving on Suburban Streets

Actively scan the footpaths when driving near parked cars. Young children can be unpredictable and other pedestrians hard to spot, especially if they are crossing the road from behind parked cars.

Be careful in areas where children are likely to be around, such as schools and playgrounds.

Respond to stop signs and stop and when approaching give way signs, look early to your right and left.

Remain focused if you are the first vehicle waiting at a traffic light.

Look for speed limit signs is suburbs as they vary from between 40 and 50 Kph, including work and school zones.

Driving on Main Roads

Maintain a safe following distance behind the vehicle in front of you. In good conditions, there should be at least 2 -3 seconds between your vehicle and the vehicle you are following.

Always drive to the conditions and drive the speed limit when it is generally safe to do so to stay progressive with the traffic flow.

Approach green traffic light intersections being sure to actively scan the intersection on approach and whilst passing through.

Situational awareness is critical to avoiding accident caused by other road users. Always pay attention to what other road users are doing beside you, in front of you and behind, especially when braking your vehicle.

Plan your driving in advance and provide reasonable indication notice of 3-5 seconds giving other drivers plenty of warning of what you intend to do. Indicate when you want to leave the kerb, change lanes, turn or enter and exit roundabouts or merge onto freeways.

Driving in the city

Plan your route in advance and make sure you are in the correct lane to avoid any sudden changes or ending up on the wrong road.

Scan more for road signs, signals and road markings, such as information signs, direction signs, one way signs, no entry signs, shared zones and pedestrian crossings.

Look for 40 Kph speed limits or less in high pedestrian areas.

Be wary of long or heavy vehicles and be careful if they are turning left or right. Be sure to check their indicators on approach, even if they are in the right lane turning left!

Driving at night

Turn your headlights on between sunset and sunrise or when visibility is reduced.

If a vehicle comes toward you with its lights on high beam, slow down and look to the left edge of the road until the vehicle has passed you. Avoid blinding them by flashing your high beam light at them.

Driving in rain and poor visibility

Turn your headlights on.

Operate your wipers correctly.

Turn you air conditioner or demister on so the windows and windscreen do not fog up.

Reduce your speed where appropriate.

Increase your following distance behind the vehicle in front to 3-4 seconds.

Avoid sudden braking, accelerating or turning to reduce your risk of skidding.

Look for water hazards across the road and to the left of your lane where water pools.

If the rain gets too heavy, pull over and wait for the storm to pass. Better to be safe than sorry.

More Advice for Learner Drivers

There is more information, tips and advice (written by GPS Driving School Instructor Trevor) for learner drivers on this website:-

Why do people get nervous before taking their practical driving test?
Driving test errors explained.
Top reasons for failing the driving test.
Driving test nerves and confidence.

advice for learner drivers

GPS Driving Instructor Trevor