- Statistically, learner drivers have few accidents and having a supervising driver with you is key to this.
- The more you practice, the safer you’ll be on the roads.
- If you’re under 21, you need a minimum of 120 hours logged practice to sit for your P’s.
- Driving in all conditions will help make you safer once you’re driving on your own.
- P plate drivers have a higher incidence of crashes than other drivers; getting experience can help to reduce the risks.
Learning to drive
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 learner’s 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.
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.
The test 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.
Getting driving 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 that you learn to drive in all conditions as this practice helps gain the skills to become a competent and safe driver.
- Log your hours – under the rules of Victoria's Graduated Licensing System all drivers under 21 on their L plates must log their hours detailing 120 hours of driving. Learners and their instructors can log hours via the myLearners app. Find out more about the app on the VicRoads website
- 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
If you don’t have someone available to be a supervising driver you may be eligible for the TAC L2P program. The TAC L2P program is free for eligible young people aged 16-21 years. The young learners are matched with fully licensed volunteer mentors and have access to a sponsored vehicle, which they can use to get supervised driving experience. Find out more on the VicRoads website
Tips to be safer on the road
- Get familiar with the vehicle – spend some time in the car before you start to drive. Learn how to adjust the seat and steering wheel height, along with the mirrors. Check that you understand the display and where important levers such as lights and windscreen wipers are.
- Take your time – it takes time to learn to drive safely, and it won’t happen overnight.
- Find somewhere quiet - Start driving practice away from traffic and possible hazards. Get rid of any distractions that make it hard to concentrate. Practice taking off, stopping, smooth gear control and braking. Keep practising until the basics feel natural and smooth, then move on to more demanding tasks such as using all mirrors, stopping the car in a specified place, hill starts and parking.
- Keep it short – for a start it’s best to keep sessions short. This will help you get on top of the basics and set you up for success on longer journeys. Even just a 5 minute trip to the shops and back is good experience.
- Get extra help – it’s a great idea to get some professional lessons, these will help you gain more confidence when driving.
- Move up to more challenging driving – you don’t have to start driving in more challenging situations straight away. Take your time and when you’re ready you can start with short trips (10-20 minutes) and build to longer sessions (30-60 minutes). Start during quieter traffic times and gradually build up to busier periods.
- Make regular trips - once you feel confident, drive on regular trips - to school, sport and visiting friends. This will make certain routes more familiar and help you to move onto more complex situations.
- Keep learning all the time - Learn about the skills involved in driving such as judging stopping distances, anticipating the actions of other road-users, choosing the right speed for conditions and managing any aggression from other drivers.
- Drive in all conditions – this includes rainy weather, at dawn and dusk, and at night. Make sure that you get experience with city and regional driving so that you’ve had a chance to practice on all types of roads. Find out more about safe driving
- Use DriveSmart – it’s a free online tool to help you prepare for your Hazard Perception Test. Visit the DriveSmart website.