Getting your driver’s licence is an exciting time. It’s a major milestone for any young person and offers a completely new level of freedom for the new driver. However, sitting the driving test can be a thoroughly nerve-wracking experience.
If you’re still new behind the wheel, it means you’re likely inexperienced, nervous and still struggling to concentrate on the 100 different things you need to pay attention to at any one time. And sitting next to a driving instructor who’s ticking things off on their clipboard will only heighten the tension.
The best way to ace your driving test is to be thoroughly prepared. And that means plenty of practice, plenty of driving lessons, and a clear and detailed knowledge of the road rules.
To help you get ready for your driving test, we have some practical tips designed to help you prepare and to sooth those nerves.
Understand the VicRoads requirements
VicRoads clearly lays out what requirements must be satisfied before you can sit your driving test. Firstly, you need at least 120 hours of on-road driving supervised by a licensed driver. This experience should include at least 20 hours of night driving, as well as driving in various conditions including wet weather, city and country roads and high-speed conditions.
You should also be experienced and competent driving on different types of roads including busy roads, freeways and highways, different speed zones and heavy traffic conditions. You should also be able to drive independently without the assistance of your supervisor or driving instructor.
Satisfying the VicRoads requirements is the first step in preparing to take your driving test. If you’re confident you’re at this point, then you’re well on the way.
Know how to set up your vehicle
Chances are you’ll be taking your driving test in an unfamiliar vehicle. And for inexperienced drivers, driving an unfamiliar car can be challenging. Before taking your driving test, it’s always valuable if you can get experience driving as many different cars as you can.
Every time you get in a new vehicle, you should familiarise yourself with it and set up your driving station before you turn on the ignition.
Here’s a quick checklist of what you should do to set up your vehicle
- Set your seat in a comfortable driving position
- Put your seat belt on
- Adjust the steering wheel
- Set your rear-view and side mirrors
- Work out where your blind spots are (it can be a little different in different vehicles)
- Make note of the width and length of the vehicle
- Check where the parking brake is and how it works (some cars use a foot pedal parking brake)
- Check which side the indicators and windscreen wipers are on (it can differ depending on the vehicle)
Be aware of common mistakes
Before taking your driving test, it helps to be aware of some of the most common driving test mistakes. This will help you to avoid making these mistakes, as well as making you a safer driver in general.
Common mistakes include:
- Failing to indicate
- Failing to give way
- Failing to stop completely at a stop sign
- Failing to give way to vehicles or pedestrians
- Hitting the kerb while driving or parking
- Driving over the speed limit
- Failure to stay within the lane
- Not checking mirrors or blind spots
This may sound obvious, but you’d be amazed how may people only pay attention to what’s directly in front of them while driving. A good driver will be aware of what’s around their vehicle in all directions at all times, that includes other road users (vehicles and pedestrians), as well as possible hazards like upcoming crosswalks or side streets.
A really good driver will be observant enough to see several moves ahead. They will not only pay attention to the car in front of them, but to the car two spots forward, as well as the car pulling in from a side street. Being ready for something to happen before it happens will help you to react quicker and avoid accidents.
And remember: your mirrors aren’t just for lane changes. Regularly checking your mirrors ensures you’re aware of what’s happening around your vehicle at all times.
Good driving is about knowing what you need to do ahead of time. Trying to make last-minute manoeuvres or rushed lane changes is a recipe for disaster. If you need to make a lane changes, turn a corner or take an on/off ramp, give yourself time to safely make the move.
Understand the purpose of your indicators
Too many people think that clicking on their indicators is nothing more than a necessary step while changing lanes or turning corners. However, as the name suggests, indicators are designed to “indicate” to other road users when you intend to do something.
Turning on your indicators doesn’t give you a free pass to change lanes, make a turn or pull over.It merely indicates to other drivers that you intend to do so. Once you indicate, you need to make sure other road users have seen your signal and are responding appropriately. Just because you indicate to change lanes, doesn’t mean that the car coming up behind you will slow down.
Driving is not just about piloting your own vehicle; it’s about being prepared for whatever the other road users around you might do. It’s important to remember that you have no reason to trust any other road user. Sudden braking or a random lane change is enough to cause an accident. But if you’re ready for it, you can avoid it.