Young drivers to face fewer tests

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Geoff Wheatley from Penrith Driving School believes the RMS testing criteria is inadequate. Photo: Melinda Jane

Changes will be made for drivers to progress from a learner to a full licence from next month, but some say it’s a step backwards.

Drivers who have never held a learner’s licence before November 20, 2017 will only have one set of tests through their learner and provisional experience.

Once they have held a learner licence for 12 months and successfully completed the Hazard Perception Test, they must pass a driving test to progress to a P1 licence.

There will be no testing to progress from a P1 to a P2 licence, and drivers will not need to complete the Driver Qualification Test to graduate from a P2 licence to a full licence.

Geoff Wheatley from Penrith Driving School firmly believes not enough is being done to prevent young drivers from being over represented in accidents.

“You can have some students who are terrible drivers, who can pass the test because there’s no one on the road,” Mr Wheatley said.

“There’s no consistency. There’s no sort of standard. You think people would be able to drive in a school zone, you’d be surprised how many people can’t.

“Some people can scare you during lessons in things like pulling out into traffic or driving through T-intersections.”

Mr Wheatley believes that there should be more testing of young drivers on the road, not less, as many drivers skip through essential criteria they need to learn, creating inexperienced drivers.

“We get people who ring up and say, ‘can I reschedule my lesson because it’s raining’,” he said.

“The hazard perception test is like a video game, it’s not the same as real life.

“They can’t apply the theory to the reality on the road.”

In 2016, drivers on a P1 or P2 licence made up eight per cent of all licence holders but they represented 15 per cent of all fatalities on NSW roads.

Mr Wheatley believes the only way young drivers will reduce the likelihood of becoming a statistic is through experience and learning to drive “out of their comfort zone”.

“If they get their licence, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they can drive, it just meant they passed the test,” Mr Wheatley said.

More information about the changes to testing can be found at roadsafety.transport.nsw.gov.au/stayingsafe/drivers/youngdrivers/licence-conditions.

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