Licence to freedom - Getting your P plates
They say practice makes perfect – and that’s never been truer when it comes to getting your licence.
Getting your P plates is one of the most nerve wracking experiences you’ll encounter. With so much riding on it, the pressure to pass is enormous. At Just Car, we talk to drivers about cars and driving, all day, every day. While we can’t help you with passing your driving test, we can provide some tips so that you’ll soon be on your way to driving freedom.
Nerves come with the territory – be it when you’re in the driver’s seat for the first time or under the scrutiny of the examiner. Even the most accomplished of race car drivers started from somewhere – and it’s a safe bet they had a few butterflies as well. The only way to overcome driving angst is to get behind the wheel at every opportunity you can with someone who knows their stuff.
When you start out, we recommend taking a few lessons with qualified instructors. Why? They know what the examiners are looking for and they’ll teach you the correct techniques. Sure, uncle Bob can fall asleep riding shot leaving you to blaze around the neighbourhood, but you’ll probably pick up bad habits which can be very difficult to unlearn. Properly equipped driving school cars have an extra set of foot pedals that the instructor can use if needed, and the vehicle is also insured for teaching should something go wrong.
Once a family member or friend is ready to take you under their wing, try to start off with a smaller car. For obvious reasons, it’s much easier to handle, park and manoeuvre. Though if you don’t have a choice, a baptism of fire with a larger car means you’ll be able to handle smaller vehicles with ease.
Manual can be more difficult to learn, but for anyone serious about driving it’s a must. For me, hill starts were the stuff of nightmares. But the only way to overcome the fear was to confront it head on. I’d find quiet streets and practice over and over, and I quickly learned the handbrake was my best friend. Once you get the hang of driving stick, steering automatics will be a walk in the park.
Each state and territory has their own licensing requirements, but the process is largely the same. Usually you do a theoretical test and a practical one. When the time comes for the driving test, just remember the examiner has a checklist and you must meet most of the requirements to pass. The biggest piece of advice I can give here is to always check your blind spots and exaggerate the head turns!
While it’d be good to pass first go, it doesn’t mean you have to. I know quite a few professional drivers (who would never speak to me again if I mention their names) that failed their theoretical and practical tests several times. One didn’t even make it out of the car park before he received an instant fail. Apparently running over a curb will score you the biggest red cross of them all...
When the big day comes just remember to stay cool and put into place what you’ve learned. In the end you’ll be rewarded with more than just a licence – you’ll have a life skill.
And remember, driving is a skill learned over time, not something you acquire overnight. And when you do get your first car and you’re ready to take it out on to the road, give Just Car a call on 13 13 26 or visit our website www.justcarinsurance.com.au. Just Car Insurance sells both comprehensive car insurance and third party car insurance, and our purpose is to make car insurance easy.