“Youth is on your side” is a popular saying but it certainly can’t be applied to anyone learning to drive in Australia. Youth is very much against you.
Learning to drive in this country is a very complicated process. And if you are under 25 years of age you will be faced with a host of additional restrictions to add to the complication. Being a boy racer in Australia isn’t going to be easy.
Adding to the complication, there are seven states in Australia and each has its own rules. This means there are 14 sets of rules depending on which state you live in and if you are over or under 25. But one thing is common amongst all of the states and that is they each talk about “Learners” and “P Platers”.
You will be pleased to know I will not attempt to explain each set of rules to you here, as I have no wish to be known as the writer of the most tedious and lengthy blog post in history. What I will do is just pick out some of the “highlights” of the many rules from different states.
Some states also have a two tier P Platers system – P1 & P2. Here are some of those rules….
First, you must learn how to drive. Whilst you are learning you must display an L plate.
• If you are over 25: You must hold a learner licence for a minimum 12 month period and are encouraged to complete 100 hours of supervised driving, but it is not a requirement.
• If you are under 25: You must hold a learners licence for at least 12 months, (but can start aged 16). You must have 100 hours of supervised on-road driving experience recorded and certified in a logbook, including 10 hours of night driving experience. The first 10 hours with a qualified driving instructor will count as 30, if you choose to use an instructor. But anyone who has held a full license for more than a year qualifies as a supervisor for the other 70 hours, or, I assume, can supervise you for all 100 hours.
• Once you have completed the required hours, THEN you can take your test.
• Once you have passed, you become a P Plater.
• You are banned, in some states, from driving engines with eight or more cylinders, turbocharged or supercharged engines, or a specified list of high-performance vehicles.
• P1’s – zero alcohol, P plates displayed and an 80km/h speed limit for one year.
• P2 – speed restriction lifted, no P plate display, zero alcohol for two years.
• Zero tolerance for speeding offences in first year on P-plates. Car confiscation and/or crushing available in some states for speeds in excess of 20 kph over and above the speed limit.
• No more than one peer-aged passenger between 11pm and 5am.
• A ban on using a mobile phone in any manner, including the hands-free function, for first year P platers and under 25’s.
• A ban on supervisors and passengers using a mobile phone with a loudspeaker function, under 25’s only.
But, kids are the same everywhere. Do they listen? It seems not. Already 52,000 p platers have lost their licences since the rules were introduced in July 2007. My first reaction when I heard that there were these strict rules for young drivers was “Great, Australia have got to grips with the boy racers” – but now I have looked into the specifics of these rules, I have to say, they look harsh.
In particular, 100 hours of supervised driving is going to be hugely expensive unless mum or dad are prepared to sit with you for 70 hours. And not allowing more than one peer in your car after 11 p.m. destroys the possibility of one dedicated non-drinker driving his mates home from the party. I just can’t see the point of that.
But don’t worry if you’re coming over from England with a full driving licence. After I bought my first car here I went over to the Queensland Transport Office to register it. I’d only been here a couple of weeks. I asked, while I was there, how I could get my Queensland driving licence. “Have you got your UK licence with you?” she asked. I had, she filled in some forms, took my photograph and charged me $70 and 10 minutes later I was walking out with my licence in my hand.
For full rules for whichever state you are interested in, search for “transport government + the name of your required state”, and happy reading. Make a cup of tea first.