Preparing to sit your practical driving test after making your booking can be exciting, but seriously nerve-wracking. No matter how much learner drivers may prepare in the months leading up to their test, the anticipation of what obstacles may be encountered during the drive, the fear of failing, and pressure of the examination get the better of some young people.
Though it is difficult to predict the route the instructor will take you on, the weather conditions on the day, or the incidents and challenges that you may encounter during the examination, L plate drivers can ensure they are prepared by revising their driver knowledge and practicing safe driving behaviour in the lead up to their driving test. To help you prepare, we’ve teamed up with Licence Ready to bring you the seven most essential habits you need to form before attending your driving test!
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1. Check your blind spots
Blind spots are areas where the driver cannot see the driving environment, due to vehicle design obstructing the driver’s vision or the location of internal and external mirrors failing to cover a full range of vision of the car’s surroundings – namely, around the rear and side of the vehicle. As consistently failing to check your blind spots is an instant fail item, L plate drivers need to ensure they make a habit of checking their blind spots when:
- Leaving the kerb
- Returning to the kerb
- Joining the traffic stream
- Changing lanes
- Parking manoeuvers
2. Buckle up your seatbelt before you drive
Buckling your seatbelt when entering the car should be the first priority of all drivers and passengers commencing a journey. The security provided by the contraption is not only proven to be critical in preventing fatalities, but is required to be worn by all passengers by law. Failure to do so is punishable in all Australian states, with drivers facing fines up to $1300 and the loss of up to 6 demerit points.
Incorrectly fastening and adjusting your seat belt when the vehicle is in motion and requiring the testing officer to assist in the fastening of the restraint are both instant fail items in the driving test. Hence, it is significant for L plate drivers to develop a habit of always fastening their seat belt correctly and securely before commencing a journey.
3. Observe and obey speed limits
Obeying the speed limit is one of the most obvious, important road safety behaviours for L platers to refine in order to develop into responsible road users. In order to be considered competent in the ability to obey variable and posted speed limits, drivers must travel within 20km/h of the applicable speed limit where the conditions permit it and travel at a speed that is consistent with the prevailing conditions.
There are numerous fail items regarding the the failure to demonstrate compliance with speed-related competencies, including driving too slow, exceeding the posted speed limit, failing to manage speed appropriately in response to hazards, requiring the testing officer’s intervention to avoid a hazard and exceeding the learner speed limit on roads where the posted speed limit exceeds the permitted limit for L plate drivers.
L plate drivers need to exercise caution on the road and adherence to the applicable speed limit both during and beyond the driving test, not just for the sake of succeeding in the test and evading the hefty fines and demerit points that accompany speeding violations, but for the sake of their safety and the safety of otherstravelling on Australian roads.
4. Use your indicators
The use of indicators allows for drivers to warn other road users of manoeuvres they are about to perform, providing the opportunity for those travelling alongside the indicating vehicle to establish appropriate conditions that allow for the indicating vehicle to safely execute the manoeuvre. Engaging indicators when performing manoeuvres, such as merging, turning or using a roundabout, is non-negotiable – the failure to do so is an instant fail item.
L platers taking the driving test must also cancel the use of their indicators in under five seconds following the completion of the manoeuvre. The failure to cancel the indicator causes a dangerous situation due to this action is also a fail item, so it is important for L plate drivers to be attentive in case the indicators in the vehicle they are driving fail to automatically cancel.
5. Maintain a three-second following distance
Rear-end collisions are one of the most common collision types to occur on Australian roads. Young drivers can address this by making a habit of maintaining an appropriate 3-second following distance from the vehicle travelling ahead of them, in order to allow themselves enough space to avoid a collision in the event of the vehicle ahead braking suddenly. This includes adjusting your speed to accommodate for merging vehicles entering your lane and re-establishing an appropriate 3-second following distance.
While it is difficult to not cave into the pressure that tailgaters place on young drivers to speed up – consequently narrowing the distance between you and the vehicle ahead – maintaining a speed that allows for you to adhere to an appropriate following distance is a matter of safety. Failing to maintain less than a 1-second following distance from the vehicle ahead of you is a fail item in the driving test, so developing a habit of maintaining an appropriate distance from the vehicle ahead of you will ensure you succeed in your driving test and continue on to become a responsible and safe road user.
6. Obey traffic signs
There is a wide variety of regulatory signage on Australian roads that regulate traffic, assist drivers in exercising caution and advise of any conditions that may pose a threat to road users’ safety. Learning to identify the meaning of traffic signs in order to navigate potentially dangerous road conditions, recognise hazards and avoid violating road rules that are punishable with fines and demerit points, is essential in a young driver’s development into conscious road users.
If an L plater undergoing the driving test fails to obey any regulatory sign, signal and road marking, they will fail their examination.
7. Scan your surroundings by using your mirrors
Being aware and preparing for potential events or incidents that may occur when you are behind the wheel is aided by checking your mirrors and scanning your surroundings for other road users, pedestrians, obstructions and hazards that would hinder the safety of you and those around you. Frequently checking your mirrors will also assist you in being conscious of potential hazards when performing manoeuvres such as merging, turning and parking – all situations in which these hazards would arise.
Scanning your mirrors is an essential skill for L plate drivers to practice before booking and undertaking their driving test. Failure to check your mirrors in response to a hazard, thus creating a dangerous situation, is an instant fail item in the driving test.
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