Learning to drive the basics

Learning to drive involves a few steps. The first step is to pass a learner's permit test which anyone over 16 years is eligible to sit.

Once you pass, the next step is to do 120 hours of driving practice which must be logged in your log book. Then, after at least 12 months and once you have turned 18, you are able to take the practical driving test to get your P plates. Other conditions can apply for learner drivers over 21 years. See VicRoads for more details.

How to get your learner permit or L plates

Study the Road Rules

  • The first step in getting your learners permit is to study the most recent edition of the Road to Solo Driving handbook. All the questions you need to answer in your test are based on the four chapters of this book – controlling the car, obeying the road rules, cooperating with other road users and driving safely.
  • You can buy this book from VicRoads, RACV offices at some newsagents, or read it online. The online version is available in English, Chinese (Mandarin), Vietnamese, Turkish and Arabic for people new to Australia wanting to get their drivers licence.

Sit the Learner Permit Theory Test

Once you have read the road rules, book an appointment at your nearest VicRoads branch where you will sit the theory test as well as have an eyesight test.

New Australians can take the test in their first language as it is available in 14 different languages, including English. These are Albanian, Arabic, Cambodian, Chinese (Mandarin), Macedonian, Persian, Russian, Serbian, Somali, Spanish, Turkish, Vietnamese and Sinhalese.

Don't worry if you don't pass the first time, you can sit as many times as you want. When you pass the test you will get your learner permit and you are then ready to get on the road, providing you comply with the requirements and fill out your practice log book correctly.

Driving practice

Statistically, learner drivers have few accidents and the key to avoiding any accidents when driving unsupervised when on your P plates is practice. Practice in all conditions is essential when learning driving skills.

Driving errors because of a lack of skills account for 50% to 70% of accidents involving young drivers.

It is vital learner drivers learn to drive in all conditions as this practice helps gain the skills to become a competent and safe driver.

  • Fill out Your Log Book – under the rules of Victoria's Graduated Licensing System all drivers under 21 on their L plates must fill out a log book detailing 120 hours of driving.
  • Always drive with a licenced driver beside you
  • Practice about an hour a week
  • Drive in all conditions – city traffic, dirt roads, quiet times, night time and during the day

Practice is the key to safe driving when learning. While L plate drivers have a low incidence of accidents, the highest is among P plate drivers and the best way to change this is spend your 12 months on L plates practising.

Getting your P plates

Once you have met the practice requirements of your L plates you can then get your probationary licence, or P plates. While this means you can drive on your own, it also puts you in a category of driver that has more crashes than any other road user.

Statistically, the first year of driving on a probationary licence is the most dangerous.

Research has shown the most common cause of accidents at this stage is due to a lack of skill. These are skills that can be gained with more hours of driving while on a learners permit.

The main P plater accidents

The main accidents P platers have are:

  • rear ending another vehicle
  • colliding while turning right at intersections
  • being hit by a right-turning vehicle
  • being run off the road

The Graduated Licensing System (GLS) was introduced in 2010 to address this risk, with young drivers now having more requirements both on their L and P plates.

The probationary licence test involves a hazard perception test and a practical driving test - where, if you pass, you receive either a 3 or 4 year probationary licence.

See the VicRoads website for details on the paperwork you need for proof of identity, the fees and any other requirements when getting your L or P plates.