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How to give maximum benefit to your child's 120 hours Driving Practice
At first, 120 hours of supervising driving practice seems like a daunting task, yet when you get started it should be a breeze. Spread over a two year period between 16th and 18th birthdays, it equates to a little more than 1 hour per week. Your learner will need to “Log” all driving experience so as to keep tabs on progress.
Building a solid foundation
Everything that is worthwhile is built on a solid foundation and safe driving is no different. The best way to build this foundation is to get some professional lessons right from the start. This way, the correct driving techniques will be established at the very beginning.
Ideally, the learner should aim for three or four hours of professional lessons to get started. During this time they will learn Controls. This involves a basic knowledge of and use of all the controls in the car. They will also start to learn Procedures. This involves set procedures that are always the same (eg moving off, changing gears, pulling in to the kerb and some turns).
Towards the end of this block of lessons is the perfect time to begin the 120 hours or more of driving experience. You are well advised to “sit in” on a few lessons by the Professional Driving Instructor who can also advise how to get maximum value from the on road experience. One such lesson will be free when provided by a Keys2drive accredited driver trainer.
Before you start driving with your learner, you need to put some rules in place and attend to a few items. These should include:
- Check that your car insurance covers Learner Drivers.
- Affix a suction cup rear view mirror (available at K-Mart/Big W for around $10) so you can see what the learner sees.
- Ensure you always have on board the learner’s permit, a notebook and pen, a copy of The Road to Solo Driving, the Driver Trainer’s phone number and the Learner’s Log Book.
- Don’t attempt the more difficult/complex tasks (eg city driving) until you are both ready.
- If you get into any trouble at all, stop the car, abandon the session, don’t argue. Consult your Driver Trainer.
- If either you or the learner feels the need, go back to your Driver Trainer for a refresher lesson.
Starting the Practice
You will need to choose an appropriate time and location to get started (sports grounds, car parks and industrial estates on weekends are ideal). Remember that you are both likely to be nervous so take it easy until you build up confidence.
Start with the controls and procedures that were taught during the lessons and don’t move on until they have been mastered. This should only take a couple of sessions, but if it takes longer don’t worry. These sessions should go no longer than ½ hour.
You should begin in quiet streets in the familiar territory of your own neighbourhood. During this phase avoid any complex traffic situations like difficult right turns and main roads. You can start to build the duration of these sessions up to ¾ hour.
This is the transition stage from quiet streets to busier areas. By this time a reasonable level of competence should have been attained. The learner will have 10-15 hours of practice by this stage.
In the next phase you should introduce some new challenges. These should include driving at night and driving in the rain. You can also use this time for purpose driving like going to the shops, going to school/work, going to sport etc. Aim to stay at this phase until the learner has somewhere near 30 hours experience.
This includes busy areas and complicated manoeuvres (eg turns at lights, multi-laned roundabouts, lane changes etc. It is equally important for city learners to learn on country roads as it is for country learners to learn on metropolitan roads at this phase.
Mixing it up
This is where you mix up the driving experience. Driving sessions should now be anything from 5 minutes to 2 hours at all times of the day (and well into the night), in all weather conditions and in all traffic conditions. You can assess whether the learner is still employing the safe driving practices and procedures that were learnt with the Driver Trainer.
Freeways and City Driving
Your learner should now be ready to tackle the most complex of driving tasks. This would/should include freeways (including entering and exiting), city driving (including hook turns and interaction with trams).
Practice, Practice, Practice
The aim should be to get 120 hours and as far beyond as possible, covering every single aspect of driving.
Check in with your Trainer
It is sensible to revisit your Trainer and periodically have some lessons to ensure you are staying on top of the driving task and not reinforcing bad practice.
With all this experience and training, preparation for the Licence Test should take no more than a couple of hours with your Driver Trainer who knows all the procedures that the learner will go through on the big day.
The Driving Test
This should be a breeze given all the training, all the practice and the knowledge that the learner’s level of competence is way above the minimum standard required to pass the test.