Road safety tips for learner drivers

Getting your learner’s license can be an exciting time. While it can be the start of more freedom, it comes with responsibility. Following safe driving practices can help to keep you and others safe on the road.

Crashes involving younger drivers (those under the age of 26) make up almost a quarter of road fatalities annually. This statistic is despite young drivers accounting for only around 15 per cent of licence holders.1

There are many tips on how to drive safely, and it’s a good idea to take a look at your state government’s website to learn about what you should keep in mind when driving.

Five road safety tips

1. Prepare the car for your drive

When you begin your first driving session, make sure to adjust your car so that it fits your requirements. Before starting your drive, you should complete a range of tasks, including adjusting your seat so that you have visibility and control, adjusting your headrest so that it’s at your eye level or higher, adjusting the steering wheel height so that it’s comfortable and practical. You should also note where each of the controls are, such as the windscreen wipers, lights, indicators, and hazard lights button, before beginning your drive.

2. At first, keep the radio and music off

Music or the radio can be a distraction to some new drivers. For your first few drives, keep the radio turned off to ensure you focus all of your attention on the task of driving. Once you become more comfortable with driving, you can start thinking about having music playing. You can always have a chat with your instructor about whether they feel you’re ready to drive with music. If you feel ready but then find you struggle to focus while music is playing, you can always switch it off until a later time.

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3. Maintain a safe distance from cars in front

One tip for how to drive safely is to ensure you maintain a safe distance from the cars in front of you. Keeping a safe distance should allow you an adequate amount of time to brake without hitting the car in front. The South Australian Government recommends keeping a space of at least three seconds. In poor weather or road conditions, you should leave a larger gap.

4. Never drive when tired

If you’re feeling tired, you should not drive. Avoid driving if you haven’t slept within the past 18 hours, and during times when you would typically be sleeping. Research has shown that not sleeping for over 17 hours can affect driving ability the same as having a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.05. Even more troubling, not sleeping for 24 hours can have the same effect as driving with a BAC of 0.10. It’s vital to try and get plenty of sleep before driving.2 If you feel tired, ask someone else to drive and wait until you feel refreshed.

5. Do not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol

You should never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As a learner driver, there is a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol, meaning you cannot drive if you have a BAC above 0.00. If you take prescription medication, discuss with your doctor or health care professional regarding whether the medication can impact your driving ability, before commencing driving.

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1 Transport for NSW - Centre for Road Safety - Younger drivers - July 2020

2 Government of South Australia - mylicence - Safe driving tips - Practice

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Sources:

Victoria State Governments - Vic Roads - April 2019
Government of South Australia - mylicense - The Driver’s Handbook - Driver Fatigue