• Learners are relatively safe when supervised. This is the best time to learn safe driver skills and why Victoria has a long learner period and a 120h requirement.
  • When people start driving independently on a probationary licence they have the highest crash risk of all groups. This is why there are probationary restrictions and a Graduated Licensing System.
  • Although still relatively high, crash risk decreases for the first few years of driving. This is why there is a 4-year probationary period for most new drivers.
  • Crash risk will slowly decrease for many years after you get your licence.

Driving is not that easy

Challenges safe drivers have to handle:

  • different conditions - from light traffic locally to heavy traffic on busy highways
  • rural and country roads
  • extremes in weather - rain, fog or icy conditions
  • manoeuvres in busy traffic - roundabouts, lane changes, turning at intersections
  • poor visibility - night driving or sun glare at dawn or dusk
  • unexpected road user actions - stopping quickly, merging/turning without warning, or pedestrians rushing onto the road without looking
  • different types of roads - freeways, divided and undivided highways, main roads, gravel roads or roads with trams
  • bad road surfaces - potholes, gravel or slippery surfaces
  • distractions from inside the car - radio, passengers or mobile phones

Even a common driving task like turning right at an intersection is complicated:

  • On approach you need to slow at the right time, drive at a safe speed and decide whether you’ll stop.
  • Be aware of road users as cars might change lanes or stop suddenly and pedestrians might be about to cross.
  • Use mirrors, head checks, indicators and gear changes at the right times to choose a safe gap and change lanes.
  • Be aware of potential hazards like oncoming cars and road users around the intersection. Safe gap selection is a significant challenge for new drivers.

Head check = looking over your shoulder through the rear side windows (don’t look away from the road ahead for more than a second).

Some facts about new solo driving

New solo drivers are more likely to be involved in crashes:

  • that involve losing control and driving off road, most often on straight sections
  • at an intersection when turning right in front of an oncoming vehicle
  • at an intersection where they are hit by a vehicle turning right
  • into the rear of another vehicle where the new driver is often in the vehicle that hits the car in front

These crashes occur because new drivers sometimes:

  • misjudge gaps in traffic
  • drive too fast for conditions
  • drive too close to other cars
  • sometimes take risks
  • are easily distracted
  • are slower to recognise hazards
  • do not look further ahead than the car in front of them

These mistakes relate to new drivers concentrating too much on car control skills rather than observing the road environment. Inexperience causes new solo drivers to have a high crash risk. Getting at least 120 hours supervised experience as a learner is the best way to reduce your crash risk.

Common crash types for novice and young drivers

1_road_positioning Single vehicle crash

  • Travel at speeds suitable for conditions and the road environment.
  • Slow down on unfamiliar roads and areas.
  • Don’t go beyond your driving skills or car’s limits.
 2_turning_right Turning right at an intersection

  • Reduce speed before entering intersections.
  • Wait for a safe gap before turning.
  • Make eye contact with other drivers.
  • If you can’t see if any traffic is coming – WAIT!
3_turning_right Hit by a right turning vehicle

  • Slow down before entering intersections and look out for vehicles turning across your path.
  • Don’t change lanes near intersections.
  • Make eye contact with other drivers.
  • Don’t assume another driver will give way to you.
4_tailgate Rear end

  • Increase following distances.
  • Reduce speed.
  • Travel at speeds suitable for traffic conditions.

 

Continue reading the Road to Safe Driving Summary:

1. Introduction

2. The Challenges of Driving

3. Learning to Drive

4. Managing Risk

5. Rules and Responsibilities


Check out the other resources available to help you pass the Learner Permit Knowledge Test and get your learner permit (L plates):

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