What Does A Practical Driving Assessment Reveal?

← Previous
Next →

Q-SAFE – the name given to the Queensland Department for Transport and Main Roads’ process of determining an individual’s ability to drive a motor vehicle in a safe, co-ordinated and appropriate manner at all times whilst observing and enacting the legislated behaviours contained within the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 – Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Road Rules) Regulation 2009 [currently updated as at 31 March 2017] – is designed to test a proponent’s abilities and driving skills as thoroughly as possible, within as short a time period as possible.As the Message From Your Diving Examiner states:

  1. Q-SAFE is designed to evaluate your ability to drive safely and correctly in different driving situations which may include a variety of speed zones.
  2. I will be asking you to undertake a series of driving tasks throughout the assessment. You will be given clear directions in ample time.
  3. If I don’t give you any specific directions, please just follow the road and be directed by road signs, signals and road markings.

Message from your Driving Examiner

Driving – as opposed to simply being able to move a vehicle around on the road – is a far, far more complex undertaking than most currently licensed drivers appreciate, and requires a very high level of mental acuity. You’re not just moving a car from point A to point B. You are entering an arena where the slightest mistake can see you involved in an incident, which may cost you your life.

This post is designed to alert new drivers intending to take their Practical Driving Assessment to the various important issues which will be anticipated by Driving Examiners (DE) during the maximum 45 minutes the assessment is allowed. A vital source of pertinent information is the Q-SAFE Queensland Driver Licence Assessment – Driving Examiner Assessment Procedures Manual. This document is ABSOLUTE MUST-READ material for anyone considering undertaking a Practical Driving Assessment in ANY of the vehicle classes covered. In the case of ‘cars’, the classes to pay close attention to are “C” and “CA”, being Car Manual/Automatic and Car Automatic ONLY.


A great many new drivers fret unnecessarily about their Basic Manoeuvres. My suggestion to ALL of my trainees is to learn the simple basic requirements that any DE would look for. How you manage to move a vehicle into a completed Reverse Parallel Park is utterly irrelevant to what a DE is actually looking for from you. Your DE wants to see if you are aware of what you are doing – moving a vehicle in reverse, against a flow of traffic – and whether you understand that doing so is DANGEROUS, and that you should STOP moving the vehicle if any traffic, bicycle or pedestrian approaches you, on the road, in the normal direction of travel.

Similarly, with the Reversing Exercise, or ‘Straight Reverse’ where you move your vehicle in a straight line, in reverse, maintaining a parallel course for 25m-30m, finishing within the required legal distance from the kerb of 0.5m…..your DE couldn’t care less if your vehicle moves in toward the kerb or finishes out from the kerb more than the required 0.5m. If you happen to touch the kerb, you will score ONE Non-Critical Driving Error under the assessment category of ‘Safety Margins’. Similarly, if you wind up with the car parked more than the requisite 0.5m, you will incur ONE Non-Critical Driving Error under the assessment category of ‘Safety Margins’. If you fail to recognise an approaching vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian on the road whilst you are moving your car in reverse, the DE will immediately fail you.

Driving in reverse on the road is ILLEGAL and DANGEROUS for all other traffic. For a Straight Reverse Manoeuvre the driver is required to be looking ‘predominantly’ out the back window. This means that for at least 51% of the time you take to complete this manoeuvre, you MUST be looking out the back window. 49% percent of the time, or less, you should be looking into your left external mirror as that will show you the proximity of the kerb alongside which you are moving.

Section 296 of the abovementioned legislation states:

296 Driving a vehicle in reverse
(1) The driver of a vehicle must not reverse the vehicle unless the driver can do so safely. Maximum penalty—20 penalty units.
(2) The driver of a vehicle must not reverse the vehicle further than is reasonable in the circumstances. Maximum penalty—20 penalty units.

Read the documents linked to below. Note the text in RED.

3-POINT TURN reverse parallel park

When performing any of the four U-Turn manoeuvres – in a Cul-de-Sac; at a T intersection or a Right-Hand T Intersection; or at a Crossroads, your DE is looking for one very simple element which is part of your principal safety routine. The Shoulder Check! Watch this video or a full description of each. Other helpful videos can be found here.

Your DE will also be paying attention to your Road Position. Section 129 of the abovementioned legislation states:

129 Keeping to the far left side of a road

(1) A driver on a road, other than a multi-lane road, must drive as near as practicable to the far left side of the road. Maximum penalty—20 penalty units.

Your DE will be assessing your awareness, observation and scanning skills. If you approach a stop sign, you must bring your vehicle to a complete halt, BEFORE observing other traffic and proceeding if safe to do so. Failure to do so will result in an immediate fail. Be aware of road signs, such as speed zone signs and school zones; also road markings such as specific traffic lane instructions. Never attempt to turn right from the left hand lane of a multi-lane roundabout. ALWAYS, read your road markings well in advance of any decision-making. As the Message From Your Diving Examiner states:

If I don’t give you any specific directions, please just follow the road and be directed by road signs, signals and road markings.

Finally, have a look at these two videos which clearly display critical failures. Failing to give way at a roundabout, and failing to come to a complete halt at a stop sign/line. Pay attention, scan constantly, observe and be aware of your surroundings and time of day. Above all else, focus on what you’re there to do. Successfully obtain your driver’s licence.

Comments are closed.