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What happens if a learner driver is caught driving alone.

Learning to drive can be one of the most exciting and stressful times in our lives, partly because of our supervising drivers. I can still hear my dad telling me off because I took my first corner too fast and then saying “I don’t know, you just do” when I asked him how do you know the right speed? 

Yet, despite how irritating and useless they might feel at times, the use of supervising drivers for learner drivers throughout Australia is a key element of how we learn to drive well and safely.   

So, if the below reasons as to why using a supervising driver is a necessity doesn’t contain your urge to grab the keys and head off on your own, then maybe your state’s penalties might. 

 

  

Penalties for driving alone as a learner driver by state 

NSW 

Penalties are decided by the court and can include a maximum fine of $2,200 and a period of driving disqualification which can range from 3 months to 12 months. 

Queensland 

  • Fine of $247 
  • 4 demerit points 

Victoria

  • Fine of $962 (maximum fine $11,539) 
  • 3 demerit points  

Western Australia 

Penalties are decided by the court, they may include disqualification of licence and the vehicle being impounded for 28 days. 

South Australia 

Penalties are decided by the courts and may include being disqualified from driving for six months.

Tasmania 

  • Fine of $243.75 
  • 3-month disqualification 

Northern Territory 

Penalties are decided by the courts. 

Rules for learner drivers in Australia 

While some learner conditions vary by state, such as the maximum driving speed, vehicle power, and required minimum hours to be eligible for your P plates, one consistency is the use of a supervising driver. 

All learner permit drivers in Australia must be accompanied by a fully licensed supervising driver in the front passenger seat. The supervising driver needs to be awake and alert, and depending on the state, at least a BAC below 0.05.1 

 

NSW2

  • Can drive any car, but cannot drive any trucks or buses 
  • Cannot look, touch or use a mobile phone or any other device while driving or stopped, even those with hands-free capabilities 
  • Can have passengers in the vehicle as long as they are fitted with a seat belt and/or a child restraint 
  • Are not permitted to tow anything 
  • The top speed a learner driver can drive is 90km/hr, but must observe the posted speed limit for anything under 90km/hr 
  • Learner drivers under 25 need 120 hours of supervised driving experience, with 20 hours being conducted at night 

Queensland3

  • Can drive any car, if it is registered, insured and roadworthy 
  • Cannot hold a phone in their hand or rest it on their body while driving, and the phone does not need to be turned on for it to be an offence 
  • Can have passengers in the vehicle as long as they are fitted with a seat belt and/or a child restraint 
  • Are permitted to tow a caravan, trailer or other vehicles, but they must ensure they have the L Plate on the back of the caravan or visible on the trailer as well 
  • Can drive at any posted speed limit 
  • Learner drivers under 25 need 100 hours of supervised driving experience, with 10 hours being conducted at night 

Victoria4

  • There are no prohibited vehicles for learner drivers 
  • Cannot look, touch or use a mobile phone or any other device while driving or parked, even those with hands-free capabilities 
  • Learner permits must be always carried 
  • L-plates must be visible from 20meters away, and on the front and back of vehicle 
  • Can have passengers in the vehicle as long as they are fitted with a seat belt and/or a child restraint 
  • Are not permitted to tow anything 
  • Can drive at any posted speed limit 
  • Learner drivers under 21 need 120 hours of supervised driving experience, with 20 hours being conducted at night 

ACT5 

  • Drivers as young as 15 years and nine months of age are able to gain a learner licence through a school or provider-based program 
  • Cannot look, touch or use a mobile phone or any other device while driving or parked, even those with hands-free capabilities 
  • Can tow a trailer if it doesn’t exceed 750kg GVM (gross vehicle mass) 
  • Can drive at any posted speed limit 
  • Learner drivers under 25 need 100 hours of supervised driving experience, with 10 hours being conducted at night 

Western Australia6

  • There are no prohibited vehicles for learner drivers 
  • Can have passengers in the vehicle as long as they are fitted with a seat belt and/or a child restraint 
  • Are permitted to tow a trailer 
  • Learner drivers under 25 must have 50 hours of supervised driving experience, with 5 hours being conducted at night. Those aged over 25 are exempt from having to keep a log book of these hours 

South Australia7 

  • Are permitted to drive any vehicle as long as it does not exceed 4.5 tonne 
  • Cannot look, touch or use a mobile phone or any other device while driving, even those with hands-free capabilities 
  • Can have passengers in the vehicle as long as they are fitted with a seat belt and/or a child restraint 
  • The top speed a learner driver can drive is 100km/hr, but must observe the posted speed limit for anything under 100km/hr 
  • Learner drivers must have 75 hours of supervised driving experience, with 15 hours being conducted at night 

Tasmania8 

  • Can drive any car, if it is registered, insured and roadworthy 
  • Can apply for a learners permit at 15 years and 11 months 
  • Can have passengers in the vehicle as long as they are fitted with a seat belt and/or a child restraint 
  • Are not permitted to tow anything 
  • Learner drivers must have 80 hours of supervised driving experience, with 15 hours being conducted at night 

Northern Territory9  

  • Can have passengers in the vehicle as long as they are fitted with a seat belt and/or a child restraint 
  • Are permitted to tow a trailer 
  • The top speed a learner driver can drive is 80km/hr, but must observe the posted speed limit for anything under 80km/hr 
  • There is no minimum number of supervised driving hours required for a learner to get their provisional licence but must hold their learners permit for six months continuously going for their provisional licence 

Why are learner drivers prohibited from driving alone? 

It’s simple really, you don’t know what you’re doing. None of us did.  

We get behind the wheel with the basic ideas and sure we might think we’re doing great in the empty Kmart car park, but when you start sharing the road with other drivers, it’s a whole different story.  

The supervising driver is there to make sure that you, and everyone else, survives this milestone in your life.  

Learner drivers with 100 or more hours of supervised driving practice reduce their risk of crashing once they are on their Ps by about one third.10

As you get closer to your Ps having a supervising driver might begin to feel pointless. This is the way it’s supposed to be. When you get your Ps you should be at a stage where there is no need for a supervising driver, so while towards the end it might be frustrating to have to wait for someone else to be available for you to get behind the wheel, until you prove it’s not necessary with your probationary license assessment your supervising driver needs to remain in the car. 

Supervising drivers need to also consider their responsibility to the learner driver. For example, don’t do what my dad did and before taking your learner out, consider and take note of all the things you do behind the wheel next time you are in the car, and how you might convey these concepts to a brand-new driver. 

 

Learn more about road safety for novice drivers  

Every state and territory in Australia require the use of supervising drivers during the L stage, which is about the only consistent rule across our boarders. Failing to have a fully licensed driver sitting next to you while you figure out how to be safe behind the wheel can have serious consequences, but don’t worry because the more unnecessary they feel, the closer you are to being a fully qualified driver. 

If you would like to learn more about youth road safety education, please check out our Learn 2 Live program. 

 

To find out more about our other programs, click HERE.  

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