In Queensland, a person learning to drive, aged between 16 and 25 years must complete 100 hours of supervised driving, including 10 hours of night driving. A person learning to drive must hold a current Learner Licence for a minimum of 12 months, and have that licence with them at all times whilst driving. The fully explained rules pertaining to Learner Drivers and their licencing requirements can be found on the Department of Transport and Main Roads website.
Unfortunately, those rules do not specify the type of driving experience a Learner must undertake in order to be considered ‘ready’ to join other licenced Provisional and Open Licence drivers on our roads. Neither do the rules make any mention of the psychological mindset changes required of an individual, in order to be considered ‘ready’. The Department does provide ‘tips’ for Supervisors, and does make a passing reference to employment of specialist, professional training by accredited driver trainers, but being a governmental department, stops short of in-depth explanations, or providing any kind of coaching for intending Supervisors.
Once a new driver masters the very basic rudiments of moving a motor vehicle around on the road safely, a Supervisor must change tack from being a teacher of a practical exercise in motor skills, to the mentor of an intelligent human being seeking to understand a complex process of thought, action, coordination, decision-making, creating the individual’s sense of spatial and mental awareness as well as the ability to recognise risk and avoid hazardous situations. Mentoring is an entirely different process to the teaching of a practical exercise.
Many, if not most, Supervisors remain in teaching mode throughout a new driver’s learning experience, leading to frustration and limitation of the learning experience, and restriction of the development of the complex processes that go to make up a real driver. Someone who can pilot a motor vehicle under any road and traffic conditions, understand the risks of driving in company with other road users, avoid potentially hazardous situations and make sound, safe decisions regarding their own actions and interactions on the road.
The Federally funded Keys2Drive program makes a pale attempt, employing the skills and professionalism of accredited driver trainers, to pass on some of these mentoring skills, however, that program provides for only one session with an accredited trainer, Learner and Supervisor in a bid to explain and demonstrate the program’s ethos of encouraging the Learner to “Find Their Own Way”. A great many Supervisors simply don’t have the awareness, understanding, time or nervous disposition to switch from Teacher to Supervisor, and a simplistic one hour session of watching and listening to a professional trainer mentor their Learner is not going to change anything, any time soon.
Allowing a Learner to merely complete their 100 hour requirement, hold their Learner Licence for the minimum 12 month requirement, and then attempt a Practical Driving Assessment without employing the skills of a professional driver trainer is quite simply akin to tearing up $50 notes. Without an understanding of exactly what a Driving Examiner expects to see, without the innate abilities of a skilled, self-aware driver who has a wide and expansive practical experience of driving at all times of day, on all kinds of roads, under all manner of road and traffic conditions, any Learner is destined to be unsuccessful in achieving their driving licence. Time behind the wheel, time expired since securing a Learner Licence is no substitute for genuine experience under the guidance of a skilled professional.
Regardless of whether you are a brand new Learner, or nearly finished your 100 hours. Unless you have driven widely, under various road and traffic conditions and been in the company of a Supervisor(s) who has/have encouraged you to make your own decisions, to actually think about what you are doing or about to do on the road, then I strongly suggest you do NOT undertake a Practical Driving Assessment without reference to an accredited, professional driver trainer. Yes, he/she will charge you for their time and experience, but the response to any hesitancy to spend that money is simple. Do you want your licence in the least stressful and traumatic manner, or not. Think about that.