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Driving with 2 eyes

a road safety initiative by Chain Me Up, please share with others for safer roads driving with two eyes cover

This is a guide for learner drivers and the friends or family members helping them to learn to drive.

I am happy for you to share this information with others, however, you may not copy the article to another system.

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Before you start the car
While you are driving
Drugs and Alcohol
Brake Failure
Cornering and Lane Changing
Wet and Unsealed Roads
Accidents and First Aid
Driver Etiquette
Unpleasant Situations
Road Position
Traffic Control Signals
General Concepts
Bad Habits
Hitting The Road
Professional Trainers and Private Tutors
Lesson Guidelines for Private Tutors
Download - Driving Lesson Log Sheet

by Ross Fraser ©2013
last updated: 27/09/2013

Introduction  (top)

Learning to drive is a major event in the life of a teenager and it is part of the passage to adulthood. Getting a driver’s license brings new freedom and new responsibilities. It also brings new dangers.

This book seeks to inform and alert new drivers to situations that may be hazardous and how to avoid them.

I took the test for my Learners Permit just after my 17th birthday. I had studied very hard prior to taking the test and got a perfect score.

Armed with my obvious ability to master the art of driving a car I pressured my father into letting me drive at every opportunity. After a couple of weeks I started driving into the city of Melbourne from Box Hill, a suburb about 20 kilometres east, 5 days a week in peak hour traffic. Did I say my father is a very brave man?

After a few weeks I thought I was doing pretty well and I asked my father how he thought I was going. I was more than a little bit surprised when he said, “Well you can turn corners and change gears but you haven’t got a clue about how to drive.” He said to me that driving is a hell of a lot more than just pointing the car in the right direction.

I asked him to explain what he meant. Basically he let me know that I didn’t have a clue about what was happening around me. He seemed to think that it might have been important. We discussed the subject at length and it became very clear that he knew a lot more about driving a car than I had even begun to contemplate.

This book is the culmination of all the skills my father passed to me, and the additional skills I have learnt over the past 34 years as a driver.

In essence driving is the art of bringing together many skills. Concentration, coordination, fast and clear thinking, and most of all observation are the main skills that need to be learned to become a good driver.

So what is a good driver? Is it someone who has never had an accident? Someone who has never been caught speeding or not stopping at a stop sign? Someone who can take side street corners at 90 km/h on two wheels and not roll the car? A good driver is someone who is always in perfect control of their own vehicle and has anticipated the mistakes of other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians before they have happened.

A good driver is not only aware of what is happening in front of them, but also of what may happen in front, behind and to the sides of them. A good driver rarely has to swerve, jam on the brakes or toot the horn at others because he has already considered what others may do and has taken or is prepared to take action to compensate for the mistakes of others. Good drivers would never place themselves in a situation where they can’t avoid an accident.

A good driver not only anticipates what other drivers may do, but begins to be able to predict what they will do. Anticipating other driver’s actions is easy to learn because people give signs to other drivers just by the way they drive their cars. They don’t even have to indicate or use their brake lights.

A car that starts to drift slowly from one side of the lane it is in towards the other is almost a dead certainty to change lanes or turn into side street. Some-one looking over their shoulder is telling you that they intend to change lanes or turn.

You only have to look to see

The purpose of this book is to bridge the gap between the skills taught to you by your driving trainer (or your parents or friends) and the additional skills you will need to use on the road to be a safe and competent driver.

Driving trainers are able to evaluate your skills and abilities to develop a suitable teaching plan for you. Of course they will teach you the basic skills of maneuvering a car in traffic and how to park. They will also teach you some defensive driving techniques.

Driving trainers may not always have enough contact with their pupils to teach them every aspect of defensive driving and advanced techniques.

Time is limited so sometimes the trainer must concentrate on teaching the student what is required to pass their license test. Try to find an trainer who will go the extra distance and accept their advice regarding how many lessons they feel you will need. Referrals from friends may help you to find a good trainer.

Driving examiners want license applicants to demonstrate that they know the road rules and can follow out basic maneuvers such as cornering, changing lanes and parking. They don’t expect perfection, but they do require the applicant to be able to interpret traffic signs and signals and react appropriately.

The license test covers very basic driving situations and gaining a license to drive does not mean the driver is necessarily competent in dealing with all conditions and situations. It would be wise for all drivers to take an advanced driving course before applying for a drivers license. Advanced driving schools will teach you how to handle a car in adverse conditions, such as wet and slippery roads, and defensive driving but they can’t cover every possible situation you may face.

Only practice and constantly evaluating your responses to different situations will improve your ability as a driver.

The intention of this booklet is to alert you to the situations that occur every day on our roads that may place you in danger and to show you how to avoid them.

Human error is the cause of 95% of road accidents.

You may find that you will need to re-read this book a number of times before you can apply all the principles while you are driving. Learning to drive is an on going process of action, re-action and evaluation. It takes time, practice and effort to become a good driver. The reward for this effort is your safety and the safety of others which is beyond price. Make that effort.

Car repairs are costly and can leave you with out a car for a week or more. Hospital bills are also expensive and not all injuries will completely heal. It is always better to avoid accidents and this book will help you to do so, so that you may have a long and pleasurable driving career.

I wish to express my sincere thanks to my father Ken for being my teacher and my friend. I have learnt more from him than any other man.

This book is for him.

Ross Fraser

Statistics  (top)

The chart below details the number of driver deaths on Australian roads in 1991 broken down by age groups.
It is markedly clear that the majority of these deaths occur in the younger age groups.

car fatalities by age
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994
Driver 935 910 815 859 813
Passenger 634 554 570 512 504
Motorcyclist 262 248 197 203 191
Pedestrian 420 343 350 331 371
Bicyclist 80 58 41 45 59
Total 2331 2113 1973 1950 1938
Fatalities by Age Group (1991) Fatalities by road user 1990 - 1994

There are a number of factors that influence this trend, including inexperience.

This book will not provide you with the experience to make you a safer driver but it will give you many ideas that you can put into practice while you drive to help you stay alive and avoid accidents.

Nearly 300 of the 910 drivers killed in 1991 were aged between 16 and 25. Young people in this (16-25) age group make up only about 15% of Australia’s population yet over 30% of our road fatalities.

Don’t become a statistic, learn how to drive with care and intelligence and be nice to other road users. Our roads aren’t sporting fields or battle fields and there is no contest.

Drive to stay alive.

Maintenance  (top)

Well I’m sure that you have heard the story about a tradesman and his tools. It is imperative that you keep your car in good running condition. Having it serviced regularly is important but there are also many quick and easy things you can do yourself to ensure your own safety.

Tyres - Bald, badly worn or incorrectly inflated tyres will stop you steering or stopping with any safety. Check yours regularly looking for poor tread (less than 1.5mm), uneven wear across the tyre and bumps and bulges. A blow out at any speed is a scary experience. When you fill up with petrol take a little extra time to check the tyre pressure, the correct pressure should be printed on the car door, in the glove box or in the owners manual. If you can’t do this yourself go to a petrol station where they have driveway service. Always check the pressure in your spare tyre every time your check all the others. A spare tyre with no air in it is no help to you in an emergency.

Lights - Once a week or so check your lights, that is parking and tail lamps, head lights and high beam, indicators (turn lamps), stop lights, reversing lights and the number plate lamp. Make it a habit when you wash the car. If there is no-one handy to press on your brake pedal use a brick or back up to a wall and look for the reflections.

Washers and Wipers - When you wash the car don’t forget to check the water in the radiator (after the engine has cooled) and washer bottle. Have a look at your wiper blades and if they are worn put a new pair on, a couple of dollars and the world looks so much clearer. Always wet the windscreen before using your wipers to prevent scratching the glass.

Windows and Mirrors - Always keep your windows and mirrors clean on the inside and outside of the car. At sunrise and sunset especially a dirty wind screen can badly obscure your vision through the glare.

Under Your Feet - Inside the car make sure there is nothing that can get under your feet and prevent you being able to operate the pedals. High heels and slippery soled shoes aren’t designed for driving, wear sensible shoes or drive barefoot. Racing car drivers wear special shoes with very thin soles so they can ‘feel’ the response of the car through the pedals.

Parcel Shelf - Never leave anything on the rear parcel shelf, under heavy braking everything in the back of the car will fly into the front. A book or a pet dog can both cause serious injury if you try to stop them with your head.

Gutters - If you are trying to turn in a tight circle don’t hit a gutter at any speed if your steering wheel is at ‘full lock’ (can’t be turned any further). It is very likely you will bend your steering control arms and the vehicle will not steer correctly. This will also cause your tyres to wear more quickly.

Before you start the car  (top)

There are a number of things you should do each time you get into a car, especially if it is a car you are not familiar with.

Getting Comfortable - When you get into a car you should adjust the seat so you can comfortably reach the pedals and your arms should be slightly bent when holding the steering wheel. Keep your hands on the steering wheel at either ‘ten to two’ or ‘quarter past nine’.

Don’t lay the seat back too far or have it too upright. Many of the newer cars have adjustable steering wheels that tilt up and down, and seats that also move up and down. Adjusting everything so that you are comfortable is important so that you can maintain concentration on your driving. (Comfortable not relaxed) After you have adjusted your seat and steering wheel into a suitable position you should adjust your mirrors.

Mirrors - The inside rear view mirror should be set so the view in the centre of the mirror follows an imaginary line drawn straight back from the rear of the car. The outside mirror(s) should be adjusted so that the side of the car is just included in the view.

Seat Belts - Put on your seat belt, and make sure that all your passengers fasten their seat belts making sure that there are no twists.

If you don’t have inertia reel (self tightening) seat belts you must adjust them properly. The buckle should sit low on your hip and the belt should hold you firmly into the seat. A loose seat belt is barely more effective than no belt at all. Never place a seat belt around a child being held on your lap. In the case of hard braking or an accident the child would be squashed between you and the belt. There are heavy fines for not wearing seat belts and heavier fines for having unrestrained children in your car.

40% of adults and more than 60% of children were not wearing seatbelts at the time of an accident resulting in their injury or death.

Seat belts save lives, always wear them.

Controls - Make sure you know where the controls are for the lights, horn, wipers, washers and hazard lights and you know how to operate them without having to look. It is quite frightening to have a car coming the other way splash a sheet of muddy water across your windscreen and having to search for the wiper/washer switches.

Gears - In a manual car check the position of the gears. Different floor shifts have reverse in varying positions (you may also have to push down or lift the gear shift).
The gears on column shifts also are not always the same.

Doors - Leave your door(s) unlocked. It is much easier in the case of an accident to free you from the car if the doors are not locked. However locking doors may also be considered for personal safety reasons.

Starting - Place the car into neutral  (you may need to depress the clutch pedal in some cars) or 'park' in an automatic and start the engine. Check that the gauges respond correctly and that there is plenty of fuel in the petrol tank.

Driving Away - Look around the car and make sure that there is nothing blocking your path before putting the car in gear, releasing the handbrake and driving off. Be especially careful if you are reversing.

While you are driving  (top)

Cabin Temperature - Keep the temperature inside the car at a comfortable level. If it is too hot you are likely to become tired or irritable, and neither will improve your driving. Don’t make the car too cold, to help keep you awake, if you need to do that you are already too tired to be driving.

Rest - Take a rest. Even if you don’t feel tired you should take a rest break every couple of hours to give yourself a chance to stretch your legs and relax your mind. Concentrating for long periods is difficult and your judgment and reflexes may become impaired. Take advantage of the ‘driver reviver’ stops to have a rest and a cup of tea or coffee.

Gauges - There are a number of gauges and/or warning lights on your dashboard. They indicate in the case of gauges, the current water temperature, oil pressure, manifold vacuum, battery charge and fuel remaining in the tank. The lights on the dashboard will light up to indicate a problem.

It is wise to know the normal operating range of each of these gauges, and monitor them as you are driving. If any of the gauges show a different reading to what you would normally expect to see, it is likely that you are going to experience a problem with your car. If you don’t know what to do go to a petrol station for advice.

A high reading on your temperature gauge means the car is not being cooled properly. A low reading on your oil pressure gauge means the engine isn’t getting enough lubrication. Ignoring either of these conditions can cause severe engine damage.

A low reading on the battery gauge means that the battery isn’t being charged and so you may have difficulty trying to start the car again if the engine stops.

The vacuum gauge will vary according to throttle position and is useful for monitoring and controlling fuel economy.

The fuel gauge indicates how much fuel remains in the tank. Many fuel gauges are inaccurate and it is possible to run out of fuel while the gauge shows there is still fuel in the tank. It is best to never let the fuel level fall below ¼ of a tank.

Air Conditioner - not only are air conditioners an excellent way to keep a car cool in summer but also they work very quickly to clear a fogged up windscreen in the cooler weather. Your air conditioner will also benefit from being run once every couple of weeks for a short time in the cooler months as the gas inside it also contains an oil that lubricates the system and the seals.

Spare Key - Keep a spare key in your wallet or purse because nearly everyone at one time or another will lock their keys in the car. It is also safer when leaving your car keys with a mechanic or parking attendant not to leave the keys to your home or office.

Drugs and Alcohol  (top)

Not a good idea before driving. Drink driving is illegal, dangerous and stupid. Don’t. Never go in a car with anyone else who has been drinking, get a cab or call a friend. Alcohol is a factor in up to 40% of fatal road accidents.

Driving under the influence also voids any insurance policies including compulsory third party insurance that covers personal damages leaving you personally liable for all property damage and personal injuries.

Many prescription drugs and medicines can affect your ability to drive a motor car. You may find your perception, ability to make decisions and reflexes impaired by these medications.

Mixing even small quantities of alcohol with these drugs can strongly affect the degree of impairment. Always consult with your doctor or pharmacist about the effects of your medication before driving a car. If your driving skills are impaired by medications, you are committing an offence. Ignorance is not an excuse or a defense.

Visibility  (top)

As mentioned earlier it is imperative that the windows and mirrors are kept clean. There are enough challenges on the road without adding your own handicaps. As well as the importance of you being able to see others, you must be aware of how visible you are to other road users.

Check Mirrors - Every few seconds you should glance in your mirrors to keep aware of what is happening around you. The risk of being involved in an accident if you have to brake hard, swerve, overtake another vehicle, change lanes or turn is greatly reduced if you are aware of other cars in your vicinity. Someone else trying to overtake you when you are turning is a recipe for disaster, if you don’t know that they are there.

Don’t Trust Your Mirrors - Having just said that you should check your mirrors every few seconds, I must add that it, by itself just isn’t enough. There are ‘blind spots’ or areas of view that are not covered by your mirrors. Slightly behind you and to both sides are spaces where another vehicle can be hidden from your view, especially motor or push bikes.

When you change lanes you should first indicate your intention, then check your mirrors for other vehicles, and lastly glance over your shoulder for a final check before changing lanes. The following diagram shows the blind spots.

view in mirrors   safe positions
The area seen in the mirrors of car ‘A’ above is shaded.
Car ‘B’ on the right can not be seen by the other driver in his mirrors nor in his peripheral (sideways) vision. A dangerous situation could develop if the driver of car ‘A’ changed lanes.

This is because the driver of car ‘A’ is unaware of the car ‘B’, and because the driver of the car ‘B’ on the right can’t see the other drivers indicators.

When you are overtaking another car do not linger in this blind spot for any more time than is absolutely necessary.
  The diagram above shows the view in the mirrors of the lead car.

The car to the left of the lead car can not be seen either in the mirrors of the lead car or in the driver’s peripheral vision. This is an extremely dangerous position to take on the road.

The cars to the right of the lead car are both visible to the driver of the lead car. The one ahead has its bonnet in the lead car driver’s peripheral vision. The car behind can be seen in the mirror of the lead car.

In overtaking the lead car the time of danger is when your car is positioned between the two cars shown to the right of the lead car. Move through this position quickly.

Convex Mirrors - The angle of view in your mirrors can be considerably increased by fitting small additional convex mirrors to the surface of your exterior mirrors. They increase the angle of view to almost 180 degrees making the blind spot virtually disappear. One small problem with convex mirrors is they distort your perspective. Things appear to be further away than they really are, so they can’t be used to accurately judge distances.

Parked Cars - Cars and other vehicles parked on the side of the road can present a number of dangers. Pedestrians can be well hidden between parked cars and drivers can open their doors suddenly or pull away from the curb with out warning. When driving past cars parked on the side of the road look under the cars for pedestrians feet. Some other signs to look out for include, wheels turning, brake or indicator lights or a puff of smoke from the exhaust, all of these could indicate the car is about to leave the curb and join the flow of traffic.

Being Seen - There are many situations where you become less visible to other drivers.

You must always be aware of when other drivers may have difficulty seeing you.

In the hours of the early morning and late afternoon the sun is low on the road. If the sun is behind you then it is shining directly into the driver’s eyes of cars approaching from the other direction.

This considerably reduces their vision and especially so if there has been some rain and the roads are still wet. Be sure to allow for the reduced vision of these other drivers when turning across their path.

Other drivers are also affected by poor vision because of the type of vehicle they drive. Drivers of vehicles without side windows such as panel vans and delivery trucks are totally reliant on their mirrors. This means that they are more affected by blind spots so take extra care.

Vehicles that are packed full up to the roof also suffer from reduced vision, as do cars towing caravans or high trailers. Many sporty cars sit low on the road and have a smaller field of view than drivers in trucks or four wheel drives.

Poor Weather - Rain not only makes the roads slippery, it also reduces visibility.

When you are driving during rainy periods turn on your headlights, but don’t use high beam because even during the day it can obscure other driver’s vision.

Fog also reduces visibility for all drivers. Use your headlights so that other drivers can see you better. However, don’t use high beam because it will tend to reflect back to you from the fog and reduce your own vision.

If you commonly drive in areas where fog is prevalent have a set of fog lamps fitted to your car. They emit a yellow light that tends to cut through the fog and not reflect back to you. Leaving the window down a little will help to keep the windscreen clear and give you some fresh air. (see also; air conditioner, above)

Intersections  (top)

It should come as no surprise that the majority of accidents happen at intersections.

If two idiots approach an intersection at the same time, the chance of an accident is high.
Make sure that there is no more than one idiot!

Approach every intersection with caution and expect that another driver is going to do the wrong thing. People neglect giving way to those that they have to, they run red lights and fail to stop at stop signs. It is appalling that there are so many bad drivers allowed to continue driving on our roads but it is a harsh fact of life. Just remember to make allowances for them and never become one of them.

You must know who you have to give way to and who has to give way to you. Learn the road rules until you know every one by heart. Give way to those you must and make sure that those who should give way to you are going to before moving your car into the path of their vehicle. There is little consolation in being able to say, “It wasn’t my fault” while you are lying in a hospital bed with two broken legs and a ruptured spleen.

There are a few types of intersections that are generally more dangerous than others. Roundabouts, intersections without traffic control signs, intersections with a number of streets coming in close to another, two lane roundabouts and intersections where lanes merge at angles other than right angles.

You must always travel in a clockwise direction on a roundabout, give way to anyone already in the roundabout and use your left indicator to show other drivers your intention to leave a roundabout. Two lane roundabouts can be dangerous and require extra care. Many drivers think that it is okay to turn left, turn right or go straight through from any lane. Wrong.

If you wish to turn left, enter the roundabout in the left lane. If you wish to turn right around a roundabout enter the roundabout from the right hand lane.


If you wish to travel straight through a two lane roundabout either lane is O.K., but experience shows that you are less likely to become involved in an accident if you use the left lane. (diagram a)

Sometimes two streets join into another road very close together. If you are turning into the second street, don’t indicate your turn until you are past the first street, even if it is less than the 30 metres you are supposed to indicate for before turning. This prevents a driver at the first intersection from thinking you are turning into the street he is on and pulling out in front of you. (diagram b)

While you are waiting to turn right across oncoming traffic keep your wheels pointed straight ahead until you actually commence the turn. If someone runs into you from behind and you have already turned your wheels to begin your turn you will be pushed into the oncoming traffic. (diagram c)

If the traffic ahead of you is building up across an intersection don’t enter the intersection until you can fully pass through to the other side.

Braking  (top)

Braking should always be firm yet gentle. Start to brake gently and increase the pressure gradually until the car is slowing down at the desired rate.

As you are about to come to a complete stop reduce the pressure on the brake pedal gradually for a smooth stop.

Braking and shifting down through the gears should be finished before entering a curve or corner.

If you are driving an automatic use your gears when going down steep hills rather than braking, coasting, braking, coasting. Switch back into drive when the road flattens out. Manual cars should be changed back into a gear that limits the speed suitably to avoid braking down hills. This helps to prevent your brakes from becoming overheated.

Speed (Km/h) Reaction Distance (metres) Braking Distance (metres) Total Stopping distance (metres)
20 8 3 11
40 16 10 26
60 24 22 46
80 32 38 70
100 40 60 100
  Braking distance increases when travelling down hill and decreases when travelling uphill.

Actual stopping distance of a vehicle is a combination of reaction time and braking distance.

The chart shows how long it takes to stop in an emergency situation on a dry road, showing the distance travelled before the brake is pressed (reaction) and the distance required to stop (braking).

If you need to stop quickly, applying too much pressure to the brake pedal can cause the wheels to ‘lockup’.

This is bad for a number of reasons. The car has no steering unless your wheels are rotating. The braking distance is increased if the wheels are not rotating.

The tyres develop flat spots which put them out of balance and adversely affect your steering.

If your wheels do lockup when braking, quickly reduce pressure on the brake pedal and start to apply firm gentle pressure again. Repeat this procedure if the wheels lock again. Don’t panic and jam on the brakes, it only serves to increase your stopping distance and prevents you from steering at all.

If you have access to off street roads (i.e. a shopping centre) when there is no other traffic about, practice braking hard and avoiding lockups. It is a very important skill to have. You should also practice again when the roads are wet to get a feel for the differences in the way a car brakes on wet and dry roads.

On a wet road (again off street) try locking up the wheels at a reasonably slow speed and try steering. The car will just keep going the way it was until the wheels start rotating again.

Sometimes the car ahead will have faulty brake lights, so always give yourself a bit of space and watch for the telltale signs of a car slowing down.

When a car brakes, the front goes down and the back lifts a little, the harder they are braking the more the nose dips. A loud screech accompanied by large clouds of smoke pouring from all four wheels can also indicate the vehicle is trying to slow down.

Look for the stop lights of the cars that are 2 or more cars ahead and you will have more time to stop. You can normally see them through the windows of the car in front of you. (This is a good reason not to drive behind a van or a four wheel drive.)

You can also try to sit a little bit to the right of the car ahead of you so you can see past to the cars further ahead.

At night and when the roads are wet you can often see reflections of the brake lights of the cars further ahead on the road under the car in front of you.

Brake Failure  (top)

There are a number of things you can do to reduce your speed. Pumping the brake pedal can sometimes make the brakes work for long enough to allow you to stop.

Changing down through the gears will make the car’s engine act as a brake and help to slow down the car. An automatic car can also be slowed by changing down through the gears.

Don’t try to change into ‘park’ as this might lock up the wheels.

Use your hand brake, this is not very effective but it will help.

If you have a release button on the hand brake keep it pressed in so you can release the pressure quickly if the wheels lockup. This is very important.

Use your horn to warn other drivers.

If You Can’t Stop - before you are going to hit something then try to minimise the impact.

If you can, turn into an uphill side street. That will slow down the car. Look to the side of the road for gravel, grass or other soft ground that will help to slow the car.

If you must hit something then side swiping something will slow you down and cause the least damage.

Hitting a stationary object with the front of your car is the next best thing, remembering that a wide car that will move, will do a lot less damage than an immovable narrow object such as a tree or a power pole. The most damage will be caused by hitting oncoming traffic because the impact speed is your own speed plus their speed.

Cornering and Lane Changing  (top)

It is important to be in the correct lane when turning. If you know that you have to turn left soon, get into the left hand lane well before you have to turn.

If you find that the street where you wished to turn has come up quicker than expected, don’t swing wildly across lanes to make the turn. Wait until it is safe to change lanes and turn into another street and then head back to where you wished to turn. It will only take an extra couple of minutes.

Many drivers swing out of the lane they are in to turn corners. This is extremely dangerous and stupid. There is a great risk of hitting a car in the adjacent lane or worse still forcing the car in the adjacent lane into on-coming traffic. You don’t need to swing out to turn a corner, just slow down before taking the corner and turn the wheel a little harder. It is much safer.

When changing lanes on a freeway first indicate, then check your mirrors and finally glance over your shoulder to make sure that it is safe to change lanes. You must also check that a driver two lanes across does not also want to change into the lane separating you.

Approach intersections at a speed where you can turn without having to slow down further.

You should brake and change down gears before corners to the speed that you can safely turn and accelerate gently out of the turn. By changing down through the gears you will be in the correct gear to accelerate out of the turn.

When a turning lane has been provided such as found at a set of traffic lights, enter the turning lane at the start of that lane. This stops other drivers from being able to sneak into your blind spot and increasing the risk of an accident.

You must give way to pedestrians when making turns.

Overtaking  (top)

When overtaking make sure that the road is clear ahead for far enough to allow you to pass the car in front of you and return to your lane with plenty of time to spare.
If you have any doubt about as to whether you can safely overtake then DON’T.

Don’t attempt to overtake another vehicle -
where there are double lines and an unbroken line is on your side .
when you are uncertain you have enough time and space.
when you can’t see over a hill or around a curve.
when road conditions are poor, i.e. raining heavily with poor visibility.
when the car ahead is travelling at the speed limit.
when on bridges or in tunnels.
when you are unfamiliar with the car you are driving.

 When overtaking it is best to be on the wrong side of the road for the shortest possible time.

The easiest way to achieve this is to sit well back from the car ahead of you. When you wish to overtake and it is safe to do so, accelerate quickly in your own lane and change lanes a couple of car lengths behind the car in front. This gives you the greatest speed difference between your own car and the car in front and enables you to be on the wrong side of the road for the shortest possible time. When you are safely past the other car pull back into your own lane and resume your previous speed.

An easy way to know when to return to your own lane is to wait until you can see the head lights of the vehicle you are passing in your rear vision mirror.

You must not exceed the speed limit when overtaking.

Wet and Unsealed Roads  (top)

Wet roads provide much less traction than dry roads. This makes braking and cornering more difficult. Braking distances are increased, and cornering speeds are reduced.

Double the space you normally leave between yourself and the car ahead. You'll need more space to stop on wet roads. Visibility is often reduced as well.

When there have been a number of dry days before rain, the oil dripped from cars onto the road is at the highest concentration. These means the roads are generally very slippery. After it has been raining for some time much of the oil has been washed away and the roads become less slippery.

Tram lines and the white painted lines on the road also become very slippery when they are wet. Avoid driving with your wheels on either. Where ever possible drive with your tyres in the tracks left by cars ahead of you. The other cars have already dried the road partially and this means your tyres have an easier job of gripping to the road and giving you more traction.

When driving on slippery roads use gentle pressure on the accelerator when starting. If your wheels start to spin, release pressure on the accelerator until traction returns.

After driving through water your brakes may not function normally. Driving slowly with your foot gently pressing on the brake pedal for a short distance will dry them out. Test them before resuming your normal speed.

Every road has a camber.

This is the angle of the road to the horizon.

Some roads peak in the centre and fall away to each side, others fall from right to left across the whole road or from left to right.

It is important to observe the camber of the road for two reasons.

The first is that water will flow to the lowest point of the road and if the drainage is not good the water will build up. Driving through this water is difficult as it will tend to lift the wheels from the road and reduce the cars ability to steer.

It also can pull quite strongly on the steering wheel. Try to keep to the high side of the road.

The second is that cars will have much less traction on a reverse camber turn. If you are turning left and the high side of the road is also on your left (as shown above), you are in a reverse camber turn. The traction on the road is reduced and you are much more likely to slide on the road.

The same applies to right hand turns with the road being higher on the right. Slow down more than usual when turning through a reverse camber corner or bend.

When turning on wet or gravel roads keep your speed to a safe level to prevent sliding. It is also best to keep to the inside of a corner so if the car does slide you will have more room to correct the slide.

If you are turning right and you have your wheels on the apron (edge) of a road and you start sliding you have nowhere to go except off the road. If you are turning left with your wheels near the centre of the road you may slide into on-coming traffic.


Parking  (top)

When you reverse parallel park the front of the car will swing out quite wide onto the road. Make sure that cars approaching from behind you have stopped or the road is clear. When parking your car be aware of how visible it is to other drivers. This is especially true at night so park under a street light or use your parking lights.

Avoid parking just around a corner or over a hill. As well as your car being hit because it could not be seen clearly you must also remember that you have to be able to get in and out of your car without being at risk. You must not park opposite double lines.

If you are parallel parking outside a group of shops there is often the chance to use the shop windows as a mirror.

This can make it much easier to get in and out of tight car parks.

When parking on a hill use your hand brake, leave the car in gear (park in an automatic) and turn your wheels into the gutter.

To avoid damage in a car park try to park in an end spot and get as close to the curb as possible, so as to give the car on one side the most room possible, while making the curb side immune. Park next to a four door car, the doors are shorter than a 2 door and less likely to hit your car. Park next to something expensive, they are more likely to not want to damage their car either. Make sure your passengers leave the car on the curb side. If you have children in the car use the child safety locks on the rear doors.

Don’t park opposite a driveway, it places your car in an area that makes it vulnerable to drivers backing out from the driveway.

Accidents and First Aid  (top)

You should always carry a first aid kit and a blanket in your car. It is very wise to have had some first aid training so you can be of assistance in case of an accident. The first few minutes can mean the difference between life and death.

Make the accident scene safe. Use people, hazard lights and head lights to alert other motorists. Be aware of fallen power lines and petrol spills, turn off the ignition of all vehicles, don’t smoke.

Check all vehicles for injured people. Count the number of injured and try to ascertain their injuries. Call emergency services with this information.

Do not leave the scene unless there is no-one else to get medical help.

Give priority to any unconscious people making sure their airways are clear.

Do not move anyone from their cars unless they are in danger of being hit by other cars or power lines etc. Injuries can be made worse by moving people.

Some illnesses can be transmitted through body fluids (blood, saliva, vomit) so use plastic gloves. (These should be part of your first aid kit.)

St. John Ambulance run some very good first aid training courses.

Signaling  (top)

In the early days of motoring hand signals were used instead of the indicator and brake lights that are standard on all of today’s vehicles. If however, your indicators or brake lights fail you must know what these hand signals are.

To indicate that you are stopping or slowing down place your right hand outside the vehicle with your forearm vertical and your hand with fingers pointed up. This is also the signal for turning left.

To show that you are turning right extend your right arm from your window in a horizontal position with your fingers extended outwards.

When you intend turning or changing lanes indicate first and then check your mirrors before finally looking over your shoulder to see if it is safe to do so before taking any action. This gives other drivers the greatest opportunity to recognise your intentions.

The more warning that other drivers have to consider your actions the less likely the chance of being involved in an accident.

If you arrive at an intersection where you wish to turn earlier than you expect, it is better to delay your turn until the next intersection and give the drivers behind you more chance to react, rather than stopping quickly and risking being hit from behind.

Towing  (top)

Most (all?) states prohibit learner drivers from towing anything behind their vehicles. However we will take a quick look at some of the issues here anyway.

Any load that extends from the rear or front of a vehicle by more than 1 metre must be marked with a red flag. A red cloth firmly fixed to the load does a good job.

When you are towing a caravan or trailer check the lights (stop, turning etc.) on both the car and the load being towed before driving away.

Try to keep the weight distribution even about the axles and either side of centre of the trailer or caravan. This will make the caravan or trailer more stable. It is illegal to allow anyone to ride in a caravan. Don’t forget to make sure the load is tied down firmly to prevent objects flying loose.

Towing a trailer or caravan increases your stopping distance, increase the space to the car ahead to twice the normal distance.

Driver Etiquette  (top)

If you have a friend in the car it is not considered rude if you don’t look at them while you are talking, it may be best to keep your eyes on the road.

Mobile phones are great but not while you are driving, and if you must use one (it is illegal) remember the party on the other end can’t see you waving your other hand around gesticulating. Do the right thing and get a hands free car kit or pull over to the side of the road.

Arguing while driving tends to distract you from what you are trying to do, which is drive a car. Leave your arguments for a more suitable time and place.

Children misbehaving are also very distracting to your driving so make sure the kids have plenty of quiet activities to keep them amused, especially if it is a long trip.

The number one rule of driving is to expect all other drivers to be idiots. Even the very best drivers are human and capable of making mistakes. Expect that every other driver is going to do something stupid and you will be prepared to take evasive action if required.

Don't make assumptions about what other drivers are going to do (but be aware of what they may do). The only thing you can assume about a car with the turn signal on is that it has a turn signal on. It may be that it hasn’t been cancelled from the previous turn, or it has been knocked and the driver isn’t even aware that it is on.

Some drivers have a terrible habit of tailgating other drivers.

If you are being tail gated, give more room ahead of you to the car in front.

This will give you more time to stop if need be and more importantly more time for the car behind you to stop.

If you are in the right hand lane wait until it is safe to move across into the left hand lane and let the other driver past.

Buses can pull out from the curb at any time and you must give way to them after fair warning if the posted speed limit does not exceed 60Km/h. If there is a bus ahead of you at the curb move across into the right hand lane when it is safe to do so. Think ahead. If someone is trying to enter your road from a side street and it is safe to do so, move across one lane and give them a chance. It doesn’t cost you anything and other drivers appreciate your courtesy.

At night especially outside built up areas approaching lights can interfere with your vision. You should dip your own headlights (at a distance of about 200 metres or when the other driver dips theirs) and focus on the left hand side of the road if glare is a problem from the other drivers lights. Never stare into the other drivers headlights.

You should dip your headlights when you are closer than 200 metres from the car you are following.

Unpleasant Situations  (top)

Blow Outs - A blow out is when one of your tyres loses all of its air suddenly. Front wheel blowouts are more dangerous but any blow-out will test your ability as a driver. You must hold the wheel very tightly and gradually slow the car down. Any sudden movement of the steering wheel or hard braking can throw the car all over the road. Slow gentle movements will enable you to keep the car under control.

Bogged - If the car gets bogged you may need to place things under the wheels to gain traction to enable you to drive out. Try placing car mats or leafy branches under the driven wheels and very slowly and gently try to drive out.
Too much power at the wheels will cause them to spin and dig you further into the ground. Make sure no-one is standing near the car as what ever you placed under your wheels may be thrown at great speed out from under your wheels.

Make sure the speed indicated on the speedometer never exceeds 40 Km/h as the tyres can explode through excessive centrifugal forces. When stuck on ice, snow, mud, or wet grass, the vehicle should be rocked gently back and forth by repeatedly shifting the gear lever from drive to reverse on automatic transmissions, or reverse to second on manual transmissions until it begins to gain traction and can be driven out. This should be done with the least amount of wheel spinning. If that doesn't free the vehicle, get a tow.

Lowering the pressure in your tyres can also help to increase traction but it is important to note that once you are back on the road the tyres will become very hot and the cars handling will be poor. You must drive slowly until you can get to a service station and inflate the tyres to their normal pressure.

Flat Tyres - No matter how carefully you drive, there is always a possibility that you might eventually have a puncture and wind up with a flat on the highway.

Drive slowly to the closest safe area out of traffic (or lions). This might further damage the flat tyre, but your safety is more important.

Follow the vehicle manufacturer's instructions for jacking up the vehicle, taking off the wheel and putting on the spare. Then take the flat tyre to a tyre dealer where it can be inspected for possible repair or replacement. After a tyre has received a severe impact, such as hitting a curb or a pothole, you must have it removed from the wheel and inspected both inside and out for impact damage.

Car stalls - Try calmly to restart the car. Don’t pump the accelerator as this is likely to flood the engine (too much petrol).

If you think the engine may be flooded press the accelerator to the floor and hold it down while trying to start the engine again. This will allow the petrol to be diluted by air and return to normal air/fuel levels. Don’t try for too long to get the car restarted, you may flatten the battery.

Car stalls in dangerous area - If you are driving a car with a manual transmission and it can not be restarted, put it into first gear, leave the clutch out and hold the ignition in ‘start’. The starter motor will drive the car out of danger.

A car with an automatic transmission will need to be pushed clear. Try to get some help and use your hazard lights.

If the car has broken down and can not be moved use your hazard lights and lift the bonnet and boot to alert other drivers.

Road Position  (top)

When entering a freeway get up to speed on the approach ramp. Trying to merge with traffic travelling much faster than you is much more difficult than if you are travelling at the same speed as the rest of the traffic.

When leaving a lane way, toot your horn, flash your lights, and drive slowly. You must let other drivers and pedestrians know you are there and give them time to react.

Be aware of your road position when turning around corners, and driving over hills. These are the times when your visibility is reduced and you will have less time to react. Being further to the left of your lane will give you a wider field of view when turning right and vice- versa when turning left. This also applies to long gentle curves in the road.

When travelling over the crest of a hill your visibility is greatly reduced so slow down and be prepared to take evasive action if necessary.

When leaving a side street with ‘stop’ or ‘give way’ signs to turn onto another road you must give way to drivers already travelling on that road. You must judge if there is enough time to safely enter the road.

Speed (Km/h) Speed (m/s) Time to travel 100 metres 
60 16.7 6.0 sec
75 20.8 4.8 sec
100 27.8 3.6 sec 
  The chart shows how fast other drivers are travelling in metres per second and how long it will take them to travel 100 metres at various common speeds.

Leaving an intersection as quickly as possible after a car passes you from the left or right of a cross road gives you the most time until the following car will arrive.

Every extra second you wait brings a car travelling at 75 Km/h nearly 21 metres closer to you. Always drive to give yourself the largest margin for error.

Traffic Control Signals  (top)

When approaching traffic lights be aware that they do not stay green forever. Lights that have been green for some time will turn red.

You must approach the intersection with caution, so that if the lights change to amber you can stop if it is safe to do so. When a car facing you from the opposite side of the intersection is turning right across your path, anticipate that he will expect you to stop.

The walk/don’t walk man can give you an idea of how much longer the lights will remain green. If he is green then the lights won’t change for a little while.

If he is flashing red the lights will turn red soon. If he is staying red the lights are just about to change.

Come to a complete stop at a stop sign. At a Stop or Give-way sign you must give way to all traffic travelling along or turning from the intersecting roadway. Then the normal road rules apply as if there were no traffic control signals.

General Concepts  (top)

Always obey speed limits, the faster you are going the less time you have to react. Speeding is one of the major causes of accidents.

You should always drive as if you own the car, not the road. Be considerate of other drivers.

When a car slows near or stops at a pedestrian crossing slow down and expect that you will need to stop.

Don’t play with the radio while you are driving, wait until you are stationary.

Unless you are driving an ambulance with a dying patient it doesn’t matter if you are two minutes late to where you are going.

The risk of having an accident and ending up in hospital or just damaging your car with it requiring a week at a smash repair shop isn’t outweighed by getting there two minutes earlier.

Many times cars have flown past me at dangerous speeds and disappeared into the distance. More often than not I have caught up to them at the next set of traffic lights, so what have they gained? At other times I have passed them as they have been pulled into the curb chatting with the boys in blue with their wallets lightened considerably.

Every maneuver in your driving should be smooth, firm and gentle. This ensures that you have less chance of losing control of your vehicle.

Rapid changes in steering, braking and acceleration make the handling of your car unstable. Driving smoothly, firmly and gently also makes for the most comfortable journey.

On a long trip take rest breaks every couple of hours. Get out of the car and stretch your legs, change drivers if you can and have a light snack or meal and of course no alcohol.

Learn and use the 2 second rule.

Watch the car in front of you as it passes a fixed object at the side of the road.

Start counting saying, “One thousand one, one thousand two.”

If you have passed the object before you have finished counting then you are following too closely.

Slow down and increase the distance between your cars until the gap is at least 2 seconds.

In wet, foggy or other inclement weather double the space to the car in front of you. Use the 4 second rule (count up to one thousand four).

If you are coming up behind a slow vehicle such as a push bike, you will need to move over as you pass them to give them some room for safety. Make sure it is clear for you to move across well before you get to them and keep checking as you get closer, indicating your intention to move out. If you are in the right hand lane remember a driver in the left hand lane will need to move across so be prepared to give them some room.

You must be aware at all times for cars swerving out to avoid bikes, car doors opening and kids running out on the road chasing balls.

Practice hill starts away from traffic. Remember that it is not how fast the engine is revving, but how far the clutch is released that will govern how fast the car will accelerate. Let the clutch out slowly, keeping the revs up until the front off the car starts to raise up. Then release the hand brake. Easy isn’t it?

You must always carry your drivers license or learners permit with you. If you have decided to become an organ donor place the sticker on your license and let your family know of your wishes.

If you haven’t yet decided to be an organ donor then maybe you might think about whether you will need your kidneys more than someone who is spending their life connected to a dialysis machine when you are dead.

You must always indicate when leaving the curb, changing lanes or turning. Don’t make the rest of us guess.

In back streets where children play and during school starting and finishing times be especially careful.

Double lines are placed on the road to show where it is dangerous to overtake on the wrong side of the road. They may occur at the peaks of hills, around blind corners and on narrow bridges. If both lines are solid (not dotted) cars coming from both directions are prohibited from crossing them. If one line is solid and the other dotted then only the driver closest to the dotted line may cross the lines and only when it is safe to do so.

When a controlled intersection (one with traffic lights or signs) is manned by police the signs must be ignored and the police have full control of the intersection. You must obey their instructions.

Develop a search pattern and constantly scan in all directions. You have to be able to picture in your mind what the cars around you are doing at all times.

Remember that the picture is only good for a very short time, people brake, accelerate, turn, and change lanes so unless you constantly refresh your picture with your search pattern, you'll miss something, and that something might hit you.

When you drive, drive down the road. Don't look only at the car in front of you. Look 100 metres down the road, look behind you and to both sides. The traffic conditions on the road change constantly, especially during peak hour.

Keep the volume of your car radio at a reasonable level. Having it too loud can be distracting and more importantly it can prevent you from hearing the sirens of emergency vehicles.

When travelling on highways or freeways and you are in the far right hand lane, and someone is approaching quickly from behind move across a lane when it is safe to do so. Don’t try to play ‘teacher’ by staying where you are or tapping your brake lights to tell them to slow down.

On the other hand, if someone is ahead of you, flash your headlights once, if he wants to play teacher, pass him on his left. It's legal when the lanes are marked on the road. Don't abuse him and don't get upset.

As well as carrying a good first aid kit you should also carry water in case your radiator or washer bottle runs dry.

Carry some tools, spanners, pliers, screwdrivers, a fan belt, fuses and so on. Even if you can’t use them another motorist may be able to.

Many TAFE colleges run basic car repair courses and teach skills that can be very handy in the event of a breakdown.

Learn how wide your car is and what gaps you can fit through. If you know that the car will fit then don’t check both sides, cut it fairly close on the driver’s side and the passenger’s side will take care of itself. Do slow down of course.

When you are queued up behind other drivers at intersections, stay far enough behind the car at front so that you can see their wheels touching the ground. If you are too close they could roll back on you . Also a car hitting you from behind will push you into the car ahead if you are too close increasing the amount of damage.

You must remember that changes in speed and direction are noticed and interpreted by other drivers and are as much a means of communication as the turn signals or brake lights.

When you are travelling with friends make a game of observing other drivers and predicting their actions. It is really good practice that could one day save your life, and it will certainly reduce your chances of being involved in an accident. When you can correctly guess more than nine out of ten driver’s actions consistently you can consider yourself expert. This will happen with practice.

Bad Habits  (top)

Once you have your license it is very easy to allow bad habits sneak into your driving.

These bad habits increase the chance of being involved in an accident.

Some of the more common bad habits are listed, don’t let them sneak up on you.

Failing to indicate. - Tailgating. - Cutting corners. - Accelerating through amber lights. - Allowing your attention to wander. - Not turning your head to check blind spots. - Not reducing speed when approaching potential hazards. - Reversing without turning your head and checking thoroughly behind you. - Changing speed or road position suddenly and without warning. - Not obeying speed limits, stop signs, and other traffic rules. - Disregard for other drivers, i.e. not giving room to another driver passing a push bike, or trying to enter from a side street.

Hitting The Road  (top)

OK, you’ve read the book, got your learners permit and you’re now ready to get on the road.

There are a few conditions you must meet before you can leave the driveway so we will deal with these briefly here. You must have a current learner’s permit, a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.00% and a road worthy vehicle. Your trainer must have held a drivers license for at least 12 months and must have a BAC of less than 0.05% They must be seated immediately beside you at all times.

Professional Trainers and Private Tutors  (top)

Professional Driving Trainers will access your requirements and abilities and plan the lessons to meet your own needs.

They can properly explain the road rules as well as the reasons for them.

They are able to effectively teach common, defensive and advanced driving techniques.

They will have a level of ability greater than most other drivers, a thorough knowledge of road rules, be able to effectively instruct and assess your abilities to develop a suitable plan to develop your driving skills. We will refer to them from here on as Trainers.

Private Tutors

Parents, friends or anyone else who is unpaid falls into this category. For the purpose of this section we will call a non-professional trainer a Tutor.

Many learner drivers combine lessons with trainers with tuition from friends or family. Using a tutor can give you many more hours of practical experience than just driving with your trainer. Having a tutor in addition to an trainer can be a great benefit to you. They can give you many more hours of practice, the chance to proceed at your own pace, exposure to a wide range of road conditions in which to practice, guidance and advice as well as encouragement and feedback.

A tutor is also able to give you the opportunity to brush up on skills taught by your trainer. It is important to get feedback from your trainer so your tutor can be made aware of areas where you need additional practice. You can then improve as a driver more quickly because your trainer can move on to teaching new skills as well as fine tuning skills learnt in earlier lessons.

In selecting a tutor you should try to find someone who is skilled as a driver, able to keep calm and be supportive and encouraging. The initial lessons can be a little nerve racking for both the learner and the tutor so staying calm is essential.

Lesson Guidelines for Private Tutors  (top)

Driving lessons can be started from well before the time that the learner has acquired his or her learners permit.

Any time you are driving with the future learner in the car, point out what you are looking at and what actions you are taking or are prepared to take. Always set a good example. One of the most difficult skills to learn is to observe, analyse and react appropriately in a reasonable time. It is also the most important skill you can pass on to a new driver.

During the early lessons a learner driver has to concentrate on steering, braking, changing gears, checking the mirrors, indicating, cornering, checking the speed and much more. Failure to properly control the vehicle because of a lack of any of the previous skills can result in an accident.


However, it is much more likely, that failure to observe would be the cause of an accident.

Observation can be taught safely in all traffic conditions because you are in the driver’s seat and in control of the vehicle. As your ‘learner’ gains experience in reading traffic conditions from the safety of the passenger seat change the game plan around a little bit. Turn this time into a challenge to see how much they can observe, how far ahead and how quickly. Encourage them to be better than you are and acknowledge and applaud their successes.

Physical skills (braking, turning, changing gears etc.) should initially be taught away from traffic. A car park outside of shopping hours is a good place to start, of course a learners permit is required at this point. When you feel your learner has grasped the basic physical skills, and has good observation skills it is time to hit the road. Start on quiet streets and in good road and weather conditions. Progress to more difficult conditions slowly, and only when the learner is ready.

Level One (The Driveway)

The first lesson can be conducted in your driveway at home. Have a note pad (or servant) handy so you can make notes and draw diagrams. Take the keys from the ignition and seat the learner in the driver’s seat. Have the learner adjust the seat so they can comfortably reach the pedals and steering wheel. Remember the arms should be slightly bent and grasp the wheel at 10 to 2 or quarter to three.

Put on the seat belt. Have them adjust the mirrors as explained earlier. Walk around the car and have the learner observe where the blind spots are in the mirrors.

Explain and/or demonstrate all the controls in the car. Brake, clutch, accelerator, gears, indicators, lights, wipers/washers, horn, demister, hand brake, hazard lights, air conditioner and heater. To check whether the learner has fully understood, have them repeat back to you what you have described in their own words. Clarify any misunderstandings.

The learner must be able to locate and operate all controls fluently and without looking. Repeat this exercise at the start of every lesson.

Fill out the checklist and make relevant notes. Practice frequently, starting with short sessions. Don’t try to cover too much in any lesson. Be supportive and use praise where appropriate. Stop immediately if you or your learner become frustrated or upset. Be patient.

Explain new skills to your learner and have them repeat instructions back to you in their words before attempting to perform the task. Often a demonstration will help. Don’t expect too much, remember you already have experience. Deal with mistakes as they happen, it is often best to pull over when it is safe and talk about the problem. Be constructive with your criticisms and demonstrate if it is appropriate.

It is best to limit distractions, avoid using the radio or having other passengers in the car where possible.

Get your learner to describe what they are seeing and what action they are preparing to take. Observation.

Don’t ask your learner to drive faster than the speed at which they feel comfortable.

Level 2 - The Car park

This lesson is best performed in the middle of a level car park without obstacles outside of shopping hours in good weather conditions.

Start by repeating lesson one.

Step One: Practice accelerating slowly in a straight line. Stay in first gear in a manual. Drive about 10 metres and practice braking gently. Repeat.

Step Two: Try a simple right angle turn to the right. Use indicators. Repeat step one. Continue back to starting point. (You’ve just made a big square.)

Step Three: Try a simple right angle turn to the left. Use indicators. Repeat step one. Continue back to starting point. (You’ve just made another big square.)

Step Four: Repeat the first three steps allowing the learner to change into second gear and travel a little further. Keep the speed low.

Once the learner is comfortable in accelerating and braking and slow cornering map out a more interesting ‘track’ and mix up the left and right turns. This will get them used to taking commands from you and make sure they continue to use their indicators. Make sure they are observing other vehicles and any obstacles. Introduce glancing over their shoulder before turning. When the learner is comfortable performing the above take a rest and comment on their performance remembering to be encouraging.

If you feel up to it at this point a quick lesson in reversing a short distance in a straight line may be a good idea. Follow up with some reverse turns and remember that the car will steer much more sharply in reverse. Look where you are going, don’t use the mirrors to reverse. Keep it slow.

Repeat this exercise as many times as required for your learner to become comfortable, competent and reasonably confident before progressing to level three.

Level 3 - The Road

OK so we have mastered the car park and now we are ready to take on the road.

Its time to reflect for a moment. We have the basic skills. We can accelerate, brake and turn corners. We should also be able to reverse short distances.

At this point we haven’t travelled at speed, and we haven’t had to deal with other vehicles, pedestrians or children.

The first lesson on the road (Level Three) should be in quiet back streets without having to cross major roads. Wait for good weather and avoid sunrise and sunset.

Keep the speed slow, increasing from 20 to 30kph and feeling the difference in braking. When the learner is comfortable increase speed to 40kph then 50kph if the conditions are suitable, and only when you and the learner feel comfortable. Remember that there will still be some traffic so keep left, use your indicators and obey all the road rules. Don’t let the learner drive too close to the gutter however, and keep a safe distance from parked cars.

It is in these back streets where children are more likely to run out onto the road. Pay special attention.

Intersections are dangerous, get the learner to STOP at every stop and give way sign and uncontrolled intersections. They have a lot to concentrate on just in maneuvering the car so give them plenty of time to react to traffic on side streets. Don’t let them proceed until it is absolutely safe to do so. Dealing with other traffic may make them nervous and prone to stalling the car, over-steering or under- steering. There's no rush.

When approaching an intersection where they have right of way, get them to slow down and make sure that they are aware of vehicles that may enter from their left and right. Keep this lesson reasonably short, it takes time and practice to be able to concentrate for long periods of time.

Repeat this level as many times as required for your learner to become comfortable, competent and reasonably confident before progressing to level four.

Level 4 - Traffic

This lesson is a reinforcement of the skills learnt in level three with additional traffic to contend with. At this time it is best to wait until weather conditions are good and traffic is moderate.

Basically the plan is very similar to the third level but we will be turning into and crossing roads with moderate traffic. Traffic will be going faster so judgment of the speed of other vehicles will need to be good.

Step One:
When your learner approaches a fairly busy road from a side street, have them turn left into the major road. Make sure that they will have a good view along the intersecting road. In other words choose an entry point to the major road where traffic approaching from the right will not be obscured by bends in the road etc. It would be a good idea to map out a plan on your own before taking the learner out on this lesson.

Let them take their time to get used to judging the speed of approaching traffic. Have them ask your permission before entering the major road. Remember that they will need sufficient time to get up to speed to avoid a collision with traffic approaching from their right. If the driver is comfortable have them drive a little below the posted speed limit. Repeat this exercise until the learner is able to accurately and safely judge approaching traffic.

Step two:
Have your learner approach a moderately busy road from a side street at cross roads. This time we are going to cross the major road and continue straight ahead. The learner will have to judge the speed of cars approaching from both the left and right on the major road.

Let them take their time to get used to judging the speed of approaching traffic from both directions. Again have them ask your permission before crossing the major road.

Repeat this exercise until the learner is able to accurately and safely judge approaching traffic.

Step Three:
Have your learner approach a moderately busy road from a side street. This time we are going to turn right into the major road. The learner will have to judge the speed of cars approaching from both the left and right on the major road. They will also have to be aware of cars approaching from the other side of the intersection if you are at a cross road. Remember that they will need sufficient time to get up to speed to avoid a collision with traffic approaching from their left after making the turn.

Let them take their time to get used to judging the speed of approaching traffic from both directions. Again have them ask your permission before entering the major road.

Repeat this exercise until the learner is able to accurately and safely judge approaching traffic.

Repeat this level as many times as required for your learner to become comfortable, competent and reasonably confident before progressing to level five.

Level 5 - Putting It All Together

There are many other practical skills to be covered in addition to those in the first four levels.

Hill starts.
Changing lanes & merging.
Three point turns.
Maintaining an appropriate speed for road and and traffic conditions.
Reversing on hills, both up and down.
Freeway driving.
Reading gauges and warning lights regularly.
Emergency stops.
Reverse parking.

To this point we have only driven in good weather and on sealed roads.

Until the learner is competent and able to manage the skills and techniques taught in earlier lessons do not allow them to drive in poor weather or road conditions.

Driving at dusk, dawn and night time means that the learner will have more difficulty with vision. Exercise additional care in these situations. Remember that early and late in the day that if the sun is behind you it is in the face of drivers coming from the other direction. Allow for their vision to be impaired.

At night lights from approaching cars will also interfere with your vision. Wet roads will magnify the effect of visual problems when driving at night, dusk and dawn .

Wet and/or poor road conditions also mean that traction will be reduced and more care is needed in braking and cornering. Leave more space to the car ahead.

Give your learner a chance to develop their skills in good conditions before tackling more difficult conditions.

It is important that they are given an opportunity to drive in poor conditions because they will have to after getting their license or maybe even during the license test. Just make sure that they are ready. Introduce the skills on the previous page as you feel your learner is ready and as circumstances dictate.

All Levels - Part 2

Observation. Observation. Observation.

Always obey all road rules.
Encourage the learner to look further and further ahead and describe planned actions and reactions they are considering.
Be patient and encouraging.
Ensure the learner always gives plenty of space to the car ahead.
Ensure that mirrors are used frequently, and indicators are always used when turning or changing lanes.
Drive at a speed appropriate to the conditions and never exceeding the speed limit.
Allow plenty of time to get where you are going, take rests on longer drives. Don’t rush.
Approach all intersections with caution.
Practice as often as possible in a wide range of traffic and road conditions.
Use the log sheet to record progress and plan what skills need to be improved in following lessons. (download here)
Be proud that you are helping to create a better driver.

log sheet

Disclaimer  (top)

While all care has been taken in preparing this article, we take no responsibility for any errors or omissions. Road laws change constantly and vary from state to state - you should contact the Road Traffic Authority in your state for the most accurate and up to date information.

This work is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research, criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, by any means, be it electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of Ross Andrew Fraser.

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