The WA graduated driver training and licensing system (GDT&LS) provides drivers with improved practical skills, experience and good habits, before a provisional licence.
The system has been developed based on research, which indicates that:
- experience and supervision reduces road crashes
- learner drivers under supervision are a low-risk group
- motivation/attitude to risk improve safety more than practical driving skills alone
- drivers must develop practical skills before developing higher-order skills
Statistics show that new drivers (particularly 16-24 years), are up to 3 times more likely to be involved in a serious crash. Strengthening the experiences and supervision of new drivers before and after they obtain a licence can significantly reduce crashes.
The GDT&LS is a structured learning process consisting of the following steps.
Step 1: Learner’s permit
A learner’s permit is required before you can drive. You must be over 16 and pass the theory and eyesight tests. You will also need to pay for a Learner Guide and Log Book.
Step 2: Learn to drive
Focuses on controlling a vehicle in a variety of conditions, developing good habits and learning to recognise hazards. You must begin to work towards gaining at least 50 hours of supervised driving (including a minimum of 5 hours at night) in a range of conditions to be eligible to sit a practical driving assessment (after you pass the HPT).
Step 3: Hazard Perception Test (HPT)
If you are over 16 years and 6 months of age AND you have at least six months driving experience on your learner permit, you need to pay for and pass the HPT.
Step 4: Gain more experience
Once you pass your HPT, you need finish the requirement of 50 hours of supervised driving (including a minimum of 5 hours at night). This is preparation for driving solo. You still need a supervising driver, but will need to be developing independent skills. The more supervised hours, the better prepared you will be for solo driving. Varied situations will ensure you are able to respond to hazards.
Step 5: PDA
You must be at least 17 years old to sit a PDA. It will determine if you are ready to drive independently. It looks at the quality of driving rather than the performance of individual skills. It is recommended to get as much supervised driving in varied conditions to better prepare you for the PDA.
Learn by doing, not talking. The more you do, the more it becomes second-nature.
Step 6: Provisional licence
Once you pass the PDA, you will be granted a provisional licence. You will be a provisional licence holder for 2 years. You cannot exceed 110 km/h and are subject to a zero blood alcohol limit and the graduated demerit points system.
Drive as Much as Possible!
You learn to drive by driving often. There is no substitute for experience. Once you can operate a vehicle properly and safely, get experience as often as possible.
Get Experience in a Variety of Conditions
Get experience in varied conditions. Start with simple situations and move on to more complex ones. You will benefit more if you vary the situations in which you drive. Doing the same things over and over in the same locations will be boring and not useful!
Try to make your practise real – e.g. you could do some of the routine family driving.
In the PDA you will be required to perform many manoeuvres. Manoeuvres are driving tasks such as:
- making 3-point turns
- parallel parking
- turning in/out of driveways
- parking in car parks
When you drive solo you must look out for your own safety, as no one else is there. When driving skills are automatic, you have the capacity to concentrate on safety rather than making the vehicle move. If you can manoeuvre smoothly and almost without hesitation, the skills you need to operate the vehicle are becoming automatic.
Practising manoeuvring helps make your skills automatic, so include manoeuvring in everyday driving such as when you go to the shops or sport practise.
Get Quality Instruction
Learning to drive can be stressful for both learner and supervisor, especially at the start when so much needs to be covered at once. Starting off with a professional instructor is a good idea. They can quickly tell you what you need to learn and start properly.
Once you have the basics of how to control a vehicle, use other responsible drivers.
Remember, you must be accompanied by an instructor who is:
- A holder of an instructor’s licence issued under the Motor Vehicle Drivers Instructors Act 1963
- An instructor in a youth driver education course conducted or supervised by a person authorised by the Department of Transport (DoT)
- A person authorised to perform the driving for which instruction is to be given* and has had that authorisation for periods adding up to:
- at least 2 years, in the case of driving of a moped
- at least 4 years in any other case
* A person authorised to drive a ‘C’ class vehicle with an ‘A’ condition (automatic vehicle) cannot supervise a learner in a manual vehicle.
As you gain experience you can spend time with a professional instructor to ensure you are developing the right habits and let you know how you compare to PDA standards.
When choosing a professional instructor, remember to consider more than just the
price. Ask the following questions to find out whether you will receive quality training:
- Will there be a planned training program?
- Will there be structured lessons where they show you what to do, explain what is required in an easily understood way and let you practise at your own pace?
- Each time you try something, will they let you know how you are going and give you tips for correcting errors?
- If you keep making the same errors, will they give you new ways of correcting it?
- Will the instructor set ‘homework’ for you to practise with other supervisors?
- Will each lesson start and finish with a review of your progress?
If you do not get this type of instruction, look around for an instructor who does.
Continue reading the How To Pass Your Driving Assessment Summary:
2. Preparing To Drive On Your Own
Check out the other resources available to help you pass the Practical Driving Assessment and get your provisional licence (Red Ps):