Risks for young drivers

The reasons why young and novice drivers are more likely to be involved in a crash are complex. If you’re a young driver there are steps you can take to reduce your risks of being in a crash and by driving safely you will be rewarded for good driving with a free 3 year licence at the end of your Ps. Find out more about free licences VicRoads website.

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 learner’s permit.

The main accidents P platers have are:

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

Night driving

Did you know the most dangerous time to drive after you’ve received your licence is during the first 3-6 months? The risks are even higher if you’re driving at night. Young first year drivers are seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal or serious injury crash from 10pm to 6am than fully licensed drivers.

  • Avoid driving at night in the first few months of having your Ps.
  • If it’s possible ask your supervising driver or a fully licensed driver to accompany you when driving at night.
  • Don’t drive when you’d usually be sleeping, fatigue will increase the risk of crashing.
  • If you need to drive at night, try to stick to short trips and avoid long road trips at this time.


  • The faster you drive the higher the chances that you’ll be seriously injured if you crash. You don’t have to be speeding to die, if you crash at 70km/h it’s likely that your injuries will be fatal. Even just 30km/h is enough to kill a pedestrian.
  • As a young driver it’s important to pay attention to not only the posted speed limit but the recommended speed. When you are driving too fast you will have less time to notice and avoid hazards.
  • Many newer cars have features that allow you to set your maximum speed. The car will then sound a warning if you go over your set speed. This is a useful feature for ensuring that you’re keeping below the signed speed limit.

Drink driving

Often when you get your licence you’ve recently turned 18 - this also means that it’s now legal for you to drink alcohol.

  • Alcohol slows your reaction times and can affect your decision making ability, which increases your chances of making a mistake when driving. To reduce the risks you are required to have a 0.00 Blood Alcohol Concentration at all times when driving.
  • If you’re drinking, leave the car and organise a designated driver, arrange to have someone pick you up, or use public transport and rideshare options.

If you get caught drink driving you will lose your licence, need to complete a behaviour change program and after you get it back you’ll have to get an alcohol interlock fitted in your car.

Drug driving

Driving with drugs in your system is illegal for all drivers. When you drive after taking drugs you’re putting yourself and others in danger.

  • Drugs take time to leave your body and will continue to affect you during this time.
  • Mixing illicit or prescription drugs and alcohol will mean that the affects can take even longer to wear off.
  • Fatigue, and the after-effects of drug use (i.e. ’coming down’), can affect your driving skills.
  • Whether they’re uppers or downers, illicit drugs and driving do not mix.

If you get caught driving with drugs in your system you will have your licence suspended or cancelled. The minimum penalty is a loss of licence for 6 months, compulsory behaviour change program and a hefty fine.

Vehicle safety

Young drivers often have the oldest and least safe cars on the roads. Unless you can convince your parents to swap you their car you’re probably going to be working within a tight budget.

  • When you’re looking for a car you should be aiming for a 4 or 5 star safety rating.
  • It’s possible to find a safe car even if you have a lower budget, you can search for cars of any budget on the How Safe is Your Car website
  • Look for features such as Autonomous Emergency Braking, Electronic Stability Control and Curtain Airbags.
  • There are some restrictions around what sort of car you can drive. Find out more on the VicRoads website.
  • A safe car might mean you’re able to walk away from a crash and avoid serious injury.

Experience in all conditions

You may not have had a chance to drive in every weather condition while learning. At some point you will find yourself driving in fog, hail, storms or high winds (and sometimes everything at once!).

  • Reduced visibility and slippery roads can make driving scary. If you’re caught in extreme weather it can sometimes be best to pull over to somewhere safe and wait it out.
  • If you can't pull over then reducing your speed and ensuring your headlights are on is the next best thing.
  • When roads are wet it takes you longer to stop, so the slower you’re going, the better off you'll be if you need to brake.

Long drives

Now you’ve got your licence you’re not restricted to where your parents want you to drive. This means that road trips and festivals are now on the agenda. You’ll also find yourself driving on unfamiliar roads, maybe you’ll be on narrow and winding country roads or doing more highway driving.

  • Plan your route in advance so that you’re not relying on your phone to find your way, or get a passenger to be your navigator. Planning your route will help you become familiar with where you’re going, and work out where to take breaks along the way.
  • Long drives can be draining and if you’ve had a late night you might find that you’re feeling tired. It’s important to break up long drives and stop every two hours, or swap with another driver.
  • Avoid driving at times when you would usually be sleeping. If you’ve got a drive that’s more than a few hours long, then it’s worth thinking about doing the drive over a couple of days.
  • If you’re tired, then pull over and take a powernap. It will mean you’ll take a little longer to get where you’re going, but it’s better than never arriving at all.


Driving a car takes concentration and if you’re paying attention to your phone then you’re not looking at the road.

  • Just a couple of seconds is all it takes for a crash to happen. In fact, at 50km per hour, even a 2 second glance at your phone means you’ll travel up to 28 metres blind
  • As a P Plate driver you’re not allowed to use your phone for anything when you’re driving. So it’s best to put it on silent, turn it off or put it on Do Not Disturb While Driving. (link to DND video)
  • If you find you’re still tempted then put your phone somewhere out of reach so you can’t get to it.

The fine for using your mobile phone is $496 and it comes with 4 demerit points, just one more and you’ll lose your licence.