By Jeremy Rochow
Last updated on: October 11, 2018 at 12:22 pm
Ask any driver about their experience as a learner, and you’ll hear a story about the near-miss, that time they crashed into a stationary object or almost had a bingle on a roundabout.
The fact is, learning to drive is hard. Here are 6 driving mistakes learner drivers make, and how to avoid them, so you can quickly flip those plates from ‘L’ to ‘P’.
1. Forgetting to check blind spots
It’s good to become acutely aware of any blind spots your car might have, and get into the habit of checking them to the point where it becomes second nature.
Making sure your blind spot is clear while merging, changing lanes and turning will reduce the chances of you having a crash on the road, and is something your driving instructor will monitor throughout your training.
There are a number of ways to reduce your blind spots, including checking your seat and altering the position of your side mirrors.
2. Failing to give way
Whether you’re entering traffic or changing lanes, understanding when to give way is a fundamental part of driving.
While the rule of thumb is to give way to the right, there are many exceptions to this rule. Motorists also need to remember they need to give way to pedestrians and cyclists.
Brush up on your knowledge and take the give way test on the RAA website.
3. Not indicating
With so much going on in and around the car, it’s easy for learners to forget to indicate when changing lanes or turning at an intersection.
It can be a costly mistake though. Without communication from your indicators, it’s impossible for other road users to know your intentions.
And aside from the obvious dangers, the fine for failing to indicate is $317, as well as a $60 Victims of Crime levy and 2 demerit points.
When pulling away from a kerb, you must indicate for at least five seconds. Additionally, an indicator shouldn’t be simply flicked on or off, but should be left on for long enough to give sufficient warning to other drivers and pedestrians.
4. Failing to stop
It’s important to remember that a stop sign is very different to a give way sign.
While it might be tempting to slowly roll past a stop sign where the path ahead is clear, under the road rules you must come to a complete stop before your vehicle crosses the solid white line.
Legally there’s no set period of time that a driver is required to stop for, but a minimum of three seconds is a good guide to give you enough time to check it’s safe to proceed.
Failing to stop at a stop sign can result in a $428 fine plus a $60 Victims of Crime Levy and 3 demerit points.
Fail to stop at a stop sign? This is the fine
5. Getting confused on roundabouts
Roundabouts can be confusing for the most experienced road user at times, so it’s understandable that learners might find the common intersection challenging.
Depending on the amount of traffic, learners can have trouble gauging when they can enter the roundabout – try practicing on basic roundabouts in residential streets before tackling high-volume ones.
While negotiating a roundabout, stay in your designated lane and indicate when leaving the intersection.
6. Lacking road rule knowledge
Having a good grasp of the road rules will help you when you get out on the road. It will also save you money and time when you’re going for your Ps.
Get to know The Driver’s Handbook inside and out, and if you’re worried about sitting the practical test, RAA Drive School can prepare you for your VORT assessment.
RAA 60-minute VORT practice tests can be conducted from RAA shops at Mile End, Modbury, Elizabeth, Marion, Colonnades and Mount Barker.
Alternatively, you can take the Competency Based Training Assessment – also known as the log book – which will see an instructor guide through a variety of driving situations required to be a safe and competent driver, before you complete a final drive.
Need more help learning to drive?
RAA offers free Keys2drive lessons for both learners and parents or supervisors teaching a learner to drive.
The Keys2drive lesson includes theory and practice and helps participants deal with the emotional and mental challenges of driving and make smarter decisions on the road.