The driving test for your red Ps is a practical on-road test. However, the theory resources available can still help with your preparation. In the lead up to the test you should revise the Guide to the Driving Test produced by the Roads and Maritime Services and the summary of this content provided by Driving Test NSW. This guide outlines what you should do to pass and what you should do to avoid failing. The criteria for the test are not a closely guarded secret – they are publicly available and should be used to your benefit. Not reading through the Guide and revising with the summary would be a detriment to an appropriate preparation for the practical driving test.
Practical experience in a vehicle will obviously form the majority of the preparation for your driving test. You can gain this practical experience (and accumulate log book hours) in a variety of ways. You should use all (or a combination of) the methods discussed here to ensure success in the driving test.
Supervised driving with full licence holders who are not qualified driving instructors will likely form the bulk of your practical experience. Learning while being supervised by family or friends is how most learner drivers start learning to drive. To get the best out of this experience, you should drive with a variety of supervisors. Each supervisor’s advice, driving technique and teaching style will be different. You should test a few people out, learn what you can from each and then do the majority of your hours with the supervisor you feel is adding the most value to your learning. However, it is important to realise that your supervisors are not qualified instructors. They do not know the criteria of the driving test, what testing officers are looking for or what routes they will use during the test. For this reason it is strongly recommended / necessary to seek lessons with a qualified, local driving instructor.
Professional driving lessons
Driving lessons with qualified instructors are invaluable in preparing you for the practical driving test. These instructors know the driving test criteria, how to prepare you for the test and the local routes used on the test. They have experience teaching driving and are likely better able to identify and communicate where you need to improve. Because they spend a lot of time preparing people for the driving test, they will be able to tell if you’re ready to drive independently and if you will pass the test based on your skills. If your driving instructor thinks you’re ready, you should be filled with confidence going into the test. In addition to these benefits, the first 10 hours of qualified instructor lessons will count as 30 hours towards your hour requirement (if you have one).
It is recommended that you take some lessons when you first start driving. This will give you a greater understanding of how you should be preparing and will instil positive driving behaviours before bad behaviours (perhaps learned from supervisors who don’t know about the test requirements) creep in and become difficult to remove. You can then continue with your supervised hours knowing you’re heading in the right direction.
As you approach your test you should begin the lessons again so the instructor can focus on test preparation and assess whether or not you’re ready to take the test and subsequently drive independently.
Safer Drivers Course
If you are under 25, another way to gain practical experience and increase your driving skill is to attend a Safer Drivers Course run by Roads and Maritime Services.
This course involves a 3-hour group discussion and a 2-hour in-vehicle coaching session. The course teaches learners vital driving skills with the aim to reduce your crash risk when you are able to drive without supervision. This instruction includes how to reduce road risks through the development of safe driving behaviour to cope with situations including passenger distraction and running late. This course will provide you with a greater understanding of:
- Speed management
- Gap selection
- Hazard awareness
- Safe following distances
Attending a Safer Drivers Course will count as 20 hours towards your required 120 hours. (You must have 50 hours of supervised driving before you can complete a Safer Drivers Course.)
Check out the other resources available to help you pass the Practical Driving Test and get your provisional P1 licence (Red Ps):